IoT Development Kits Bring Proof of Concepts to Life—but What Should Developers Be Aware Of?

Internet of Things (IoT) hardware development kits accelerate IoT hardware development, enabling developers to use readily available radios, sensors, and microprocessors to develop hardware elements for new IoT solutions and applications. This resource reviews some changes in the IoT development kit landscape that developers should know as they aim to optimize their products.

Registered users can unlock up to five pieces of premium content each month.

Log in or register to unlock this Research Highlight.

Market Overview

  • As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to evolve and grow, so will the number of IoT software developers. There will be nearly 10 million IoT developers worldwide by 2028, compared to 5.71 million in 2023.
  • The 2023 to 2028 Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for IoT developers will be 11.8%, which is more than twice as fast the rate of all software developers.
  • The number of IoT developer kit shipments is growing as newer applications are explored, and the complexity of the connectivity landscape expands. Traditionally, development kits served the non-cellular connected development processes; however, as the connectivity landscape expands, development kits also cater to cellular connectivity technologies.
  • Growing at a CAGR of 7.3%, annual IoT hardware and software development kit shipments will increase from 26.17 million units in 2023 to 37.18 million by 2028.

“Particularly in terms of device development, a lot of choices are available for developers with a large range of available hardware and software development options for an IoT solution. The evolution of the development ecosystem has driven manufacturers to increase the number of hardware development kits and expand the features and software capabilities within their development portfolios. The overall goal is to offer devices that can meet the different capabilities in an increasingly diverse IoT application ecosystem.” – Harriet Sumnall, Analyst at ABI Research

Table 1: Size of Developer Ecosystem (in Millions): 2023 to 2028

Segment 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 CAGR 23-28
All Software Developers 31.56 33,36 35.24 37.20 39.26 41.41 5.6%
IoT Developers 5.71 6.43 7.21 8.05 8.97 9.96 11.8%

Table 2: IoT Development Kit Shipments (in Millions): 2023 to 2028

Segment 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 CAGR 23-28
IoT Development Kits 26.17 28.19 30.30 32.51 34.80 37.18 7.3%

Key Decision Items

How IoT Development Kits Have Been Simplified

Initially, IoT hardware development kits were more complex, especially for developing software on the device. They were also bigger and bulkier, meaning that no Proof of Concept (POC) they created looked like a realistic IoT product aimed for the market. This made it difficult for IoT developers to present what the finalized product would look like to their teams.

Flash forward to today, IoT hardware development kits are much smaller in size, enabling developers to create a device that is closer in size to the finished product. A much larger variety of kits is available with different connectivity technologies and form factors, able to suit an extensive range of additional capabilities. As the overall IoT market has evolved, the inevitable act of hardware evolution, in general, has taken place with a lot more flexibility in the hardware options available for developers.

Decide between Outsourced and In-House IoT Development Kits

One of the biggest decisions for IoT device developers is whether to buy or build their own development kit prototypes. Buying offers a speedier alternative, meaning developers can see what their IoT product will look like before they release their solution to market, or they can efficiently test product designs. This assumes that corporate entities are looking to develop an IoT solution that will make a profit. However, in some instances, the development process is to make their in-house procedures more efficient without the additional fees and costs of installing an IoT solution using an outside source.

A Broadening Connectivity Landscape for IoT Development Kits

The number of connectivity technologies used for the IoT is increasing, with cellular technologies like 5G and the growth of cellular LPWA technologies like Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and Cat-M encouraging IoT device manufacturers to offer a larger variety of boards. Traditionally, portfolios have been heavily based on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity development kits, but more boards are increasingly becoming available for cellular technologies.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the IoT Development Kit Basket

Although IoT developer kits are being used, they are not necessarily the optimal approach for device development. Developer environments, including forums, software libraries, and general market information regarding well-established market verticals, will always benefit the developer ecosystem—both the developers and those offering the development tools. The IoT is constantly evolving, so all vendors in the ecosystem must ensure that their portfolios and knowledge are up to date and in the best position to serve and support their customers.

Key Market Players to Watch

Dig Deeper for the Full Picture

Get a better breakdown of the IoT market—tailored for the developer perspective—in ABI Research’s IoT Hardware Development Kits research report.

Not ready for the report yet? Check out our following Research Highlights:

This content is part of the company’s IoT Hardware & Devices Research Service.