The broad Internet of Things (IoT) market has had a rough go of it over the past decade or so. Indeed, initial projections in the early 2010s of billions and billions of IoT connections globally failed to pan out. And IoT providers ranging from DoCoMo to Sigfox have faced their share of hiccups and stumbles over the years.
But a pair of veteran IoT companies – Ingenu and Kore Wireless – are boasting of a renewed momentum in the market, albeit in very different ways.
And though movement by two companies out of thousands in a space as broad as the IoT isn't necessarily indicative of any major trend, it's nonetheless noteworthy given their longtime positions in the market.
First up is Ingenu, which was founded in 2008 to sell its inexpensive RPMA IoT network equipment running in the unlicensed 2.4GHz band. The company has suffered several setbacks over the years, but in 2020 it installed a new CEO who declared the era of "Ingenu 2.0." At the time, he touted new business opportunities all over the world, plans to launch RPMA-capable low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, and a "pipeline of contract value" worth $2 billion.
The company then went quiet, and according to its website has not issued a press release since.
Ingenu's RPMA to go to space
However, this week Ingenu's satellite partner Phantom Space announced a $240 million contract from Ingenu to design and launch a constellation of 72 RPMA-capable LEO satellites – dubbed AFNIO – starting in 2023.
"Over the past couple of years we have been very busy developing our market strategy, that being a cloud-based platform which supports full end to end solutions in a wide variety of business verticals versus a connectivity model whereby the end users are required to take the responsibility of the end point devices and enabling them with our RPMA technology," Ingenu's William Schmidt wrote this week in response to questions from Light Reading. "Today Ingenu has a clean balance sheet and owns the most robust IoT technology currently deployed in the market, the RPMA technology. The AFNIO satellite system will dramatically add to the RPMA equation."
Schmidt boasted that Ingenu now counts over 2.5 million RPMA-enabled devices around the world, and that the company has $5.5 billion of "pipeline revenues" over the next ten years.
But the scale and scope of Ingenu's operations are difficult to determine. The RPMA coverage map on the company's website shows services in just a few dozen US cities and no international coverage locations, though Ingenu has touted operations using its technology in cities ranging from Santiago, Chile to Irene, South Africa. Further, several attempts to download white papers from the company's website were unsuccessful.
Nonetheless, Ingenu CEO Alvaro Gazzolo said the company's new LEO effort would allow it to provide services "anywhere on earth and complement existing customers' terrestrial networks." He said Ingenue counts 50 RPMA terrestrial networks across five continents.
Kore's new IPO
Ingenu's announcements contrast with those from Kore, which on Friday went public under the ticker symbol CTAC via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger with Cerberus Telecom Acquisition.
"Founded nearly two decades ago, Kore has long been recognized as a pioneer and growth catalyst for the IoT industry," the company wrote in a release. It cited expectations that the IoT market overall will grow from 12 billion devices at the end of 2020 to 75 billion devices by 2030.
On Kore's first day of trading, CTAC stock was down around 15% to $7.81 per share.
"Kore sits in the middle of the IoT ecosystem with an enablement platform that appeals to large enterprise customers implementing end-to-end solutions or IoT solutions providers themselves, attempting to bring their specialized services to a global market. It's recurring revenue model already generates free cash flow and it has M&A opportunities that can further leverage growth," wrote the financial analysts at LightShed Partners in a post to investors. The firm gave Kore's shares a "buy" rating.
The LightShed analysts explained that the IoT market is broad and growing, but remains complex as it stretches across multiple, fragmented layers.
"Kore's strength is rooted in its IoT platform that simplifies global connectivity," they wrote. "Kore's platform enables a customer to manage multiple terrestrial wireless, satellite and unlicensed connectivity options like LPWA (low-power wide-area) with one simple interface. The alternative for the customer is to negotiate and manage multiple carrier relationships."
The analysts said they expect Kore's revenue growth to accelerate to 16.4% in 2021 from 7.6% last year, despite the fact that several US operators plan to shutter their 2G and 3G networks in the next few years.
"We have full confidence in the Kore management team's ability to execute on their strategy to drive growth and sustained returns," said Tim Donahue, the former executive chairman of Sprint Nextel (now part of T-Mobile) the new chairman of Kore's board of directors, in a release.
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