I was answering a question on Quora about startups and the Internet of Things when I felt a strong jolt of deja vu. The Quora user in question had asked (aloud) whether it was worth signing on with an IoT startup and hoping it would get bought out, or whether the golden age of the quick sale had already passed for the industry. I immediately thought back to an article I wrote way back in January 2011 on the Tipping Point and Hype Cycle for Digital Signage, which studied basically the same question but with a focus on digital signage. At the time I was using this image from Gartner group (an expert on industry hype cycles, especially when it comes to creating them):


Today the digital signage industry is mature. There's still plenty of hype, but many fewer people who buy into it. The same cannot be said for the Internet of Things, though. As I noted in Quora,

Any time we see a new industry emerge there's a huge surge of startup activity. As the industry mature and expectations collide with reality, that initial surge slows down and a more moderate rate of startup creation takes over.

Helping me illustrate the point this time around is Y-Combinator's Paul Graham, who came up with a new riff on Gartner's hype cycle diagram:

startup curve

We're probably somewhere in the early stages of the "wearing off of novelty" stage with regard to the IoT industry right now, though there are many people adamant that we've not yet reached the peak of the TechCrunch of Initiation. Unless you're looking to sell your company right now, though, it hardly seems to matter, as two things are clear: first, there's a lot of growth left in the IoT industry, even if its effects aren't as revolutionary as heralded; second, whether we're still in the heady early days or the novelty is staring to wear off, we may still have to look forward to the Trough of Sorrow.

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