By James Blackman
KDDI-owned IoT connectivity provider Soracom has claimed its five-millionth IoT connection, citing strong uptake in the energy, retail, healthcare, agriculture, and consumer electronics industries. The figure represents an advance of one million global connections in less than a year; the firm passed four million, it said, in January. It passed one million in June 2019.
Meanwhile, the company has also applied to list its shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in Japan. The application lists its capital stock at 3.7 billion yen (US$26.38 million). Soracom claims more than 20,000 customers. KDDI described the application as a “swing-by” IPO, where a startup grows with the support of a larger company prior to public offering – like how “a space probe accelerates using the gravitational mass of a planet”.
The listing requires approval from the Japan Exchange Regulation; there is no word on timing. Soracom raised new investment last year from six technology firms, including from two major IoT customers, in the form Nippon Gas (NICIGAS) and Sourcenext Corporation in the Japanese utility industry, as well as from Japan-based trio Hitachi, Secom, and Sony Group, and World Innovation Lab, a US-Japan venture capital firm and a repeat investor. At the time, Soracom called the funding a “new partnership” to fuel growing enterprise demand for IoT connectivity.
A statement said of its proposition: “Using Soracom, IoT innovators can connect any number of devices to their preferred cloud easily, affordably, and reliably, with complete network control, anywhere in the world.” Soracom offers integrated cellular IoT (NB-IoT and LTE-M), plus Sigfox, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet.
Earlier this year, Soracom, an investor in and collaborator with new Sigfox-owner UnaBiz, said it had expanded its partner network into the Americas and Europe, it has said, including via its UnaBiz partnership. The firm said its partner ranks have swollen to 800 companies with new additions in the two regions. These include “more than 100 certified partners”, it said, from across the hardware, software, solutions, and integration services sectors.
The firm has recently announced ‘native support‘ for satellite IoT messaging, via a deal with Switzerland-based Astrocast, enabling enterprises to pay for terrestrial and satellite IoT in a single platform. Additional satellite providers will be added into the platform, it said. The firm is working with France-based identity services outfit IDEMIA to offer enterprises an optimised low-power eSIM with its power-constrained cellular IoT products in North America and Europe.
Co-founder and chief technology officer at Soracom, Kenta Yasukawa, commented: “Soracom’s horizontal IoT platform makes IoT accessible to a growing number of partners, industries and applications… We help customers in virtually every vertical offload heavy lifting to the cloud on terms that make sense for IoT… We are humbled by the ways Soracom customers and partners around the world are building new connected experiences.”
The firm profiled IoT usage by Romania-based customer Pocketalk, which makes a two-way touchscreen language-translation device. Pocketalk claims to have sold “nearly one million connected devices” worldwide; whether all of these are Soracom-connected is unconfirmed. Joe Miller, general manager at Pocketalk, said: “From our first device to our third generation, Soracom has supported our growth with everything from eSIM provisioning to local breakout capability to IoT architecture consultation.”