IBM snaps up and more in Watson IoT push

Also this week IBM announced six new partners using Watson to develop new apps

IBM will acquire and other digital assets from The Weather Company for its new Watson IoT Unit and Watson IoT Cloud platform, it announced Wednesday.

The purchase covers The Weather Company's mobile and Web-based products, including WSI, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand. The TV-based Weather Channel is not included, but it will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract, IBM said.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016. Terms were not disclosed.

IBM kicked off its IoT push in March, when it committed to investing $3 billion in related services. Of particular interest to IBM in this deal is The Weather Company’s dynamic cloud data platform, which powers its mobile app -- the fourth most-used such app daily in the U.S. -- and handles 26 billion inquiries to its cloud-based services each day.

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The Internet of Things is Watson's next challenge.

That platform is designed to ingest a wide range of data at massive speed and scale. Its sophisticated models analyze data from 3 billion weather forecast reference points, more than 40 million smartphones and 50,000 airplane flights each day.

Equipped with that technology, IBM will be able to collect even more global data for deeper insights across the Watson platform. For companies tapping into the Internet of Things, that will mean "significant competitive advantage as they link their business and sensor data with weather and other pertinent information in real time,” said John Kelly, senior vice president for IBM Solutions Portfolio and Research.

Coupling predictive weather analytics with real-time analysis of social media chatter, for example, can help retailers and distributors keep vital goods available during times of need.

IBM also plans to build upon The Weather Company’s digital advertising platform with new ad-sponsored consumer and business products, it said.

Earlier this year, IBM and The Weather Company, which is is owned by private equity firms The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital along with NBCUniversal, formed a strategic alliance through which IBM licensed The Weather Company’s cloud data platform and collaborated with its B2B division on industry products and services.

Rumors of a potential acquisition had been circulating for several weeks.

Also this week, IBM announced six new partners using Watson to develop new apps and services powered by cognitive computing: Engage, Macaw Speech, Opentopic, StatSocial, Vennli and Domus Semo Sancus.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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