Submitted by Larry Bellehumeur on 

M2M - The Industry


I am sure that this will shock many teenagers, but there actually was a time when all three of these technology titans were not in the smartphone space!  About a decade ago (earlier for MSFT), all three of these companies started to see explosive growth in the smartphone market, as the public started to look for increased functionality on devices that sat in their pockets.  Now, these three play significant roles in this market and, in general, our everyday lives.

However, one has to wonder....especially in developed countries, how long will smartphones continue to see the tremendous growth of the past few years and where are these forward-thinking companies looking for their next growth opportunity?   Since all of these companies have billions of dollars in sales annually, any future growth opportunity would have to offer both a huge market now, as well as a lot of room to grow to justify their interest.  Somewhere in California/Washington state offices, I have to think that the term M2M has been mentioned more than once...

To date, each of these companies has had some involvement, whether directly or indirectly in the M2M space:

  • Microsoft offers many back-end systems (both corporately-hosted and cloud-based) that no doubt have been used to host some M2M data today.  As well, the Microsoft Sync system does use the on-board telematics from the Ford vehicles to provide valuable user information to the driver.
  • Google's Android platform offers the ability to link users remotely with key pieces of M2M information gathered from remote devices.....information that could very well be stored in Google's cloud platform.  As well, it has been rumored that Google is moving into the RFID market for a while.
  • Given they are incredibly secretive about new products, it’s tough to know what Apple is up to in this space.  However, the IOS platform does offer a strong way for users to retrieve key pieces of information from remote M2M devices.  As well, some Digital Signage solutions have been based on Apple's Mac Mini, as it offers a very robust platform.

So....it is always fun to speculate.  How may these companies get into M2M in a big way?  Please note....I have absolutely no inside information here, and this is strictly my personal thoughts.

Google

- Google may have the most to gain from a significant entry into the M2M space.  They have a significant hardware division (thanks to the Motorola acquisition), a robust and flexible mobile platform in Android, a great reach into the Analytics space, massive reach into the consumer space to deliver information, a booming cloud-based services business and more. 

- First, I definitely see a stronger push on their part into making Android the best platform to monitor M2M data, maybe even building something directly into the OS itself.  There are some third party apps that do this today.

- Next, since they have done a great job in targeting business to use some of their on-line business software packages, it may make sense to offer some sort of M2M hosting services for the SMB market.

- Finally, I see the potential for the Motorola division to get into the M2M hardware space under the Google brand.  The idea would be that a potential solution could involve M2M monitoring hardware, Google connectivity (with Google acting as an MVNO or through their existing landline connectivity businesses), hosted platform based monitoring (which is easily accessible on any Android or Chrome-based product) and email alerts easily programmed into Google's mail offering.

Microsoft

- Like Google, Microsoft has a lot of the components that it would need already (with some minor upgrades) to make a big splash into the M2M space.

- Microsoft has two interesting platforms (X-Box and Sync) that could be leveraged to work as M2M gateways for the home and for your vehicle.  Sure, it would take some changes, but both offer a lot of flexibility to easily make the upgrades.  When you factor into that they also have a PC/laptop in most homes and offices, it becomes even more appealing.

- Next, Microsoft is also working its way into the mobile space, albeit at a slower pace than expected (at least according to executives as NVIDIA!).  This will be critical as they will need to incorporate mobile access to any systems that they wish to provide.

- Where I don't see MSFT playing (at least not without a major acquisition) is the M2M hardware space.  They may likely rely on partnerships.

Apple

- It is pretty hard to even speculate what Apple may do, as there are little public indications of their intentions in this area.  As well, Apple tends to be the least likely of the three companies to partner in new areas, so it becomes even more difficult.

- Apple has several tools that would make an entry into the M2M space exciting.  First, there are millions of mobile IOS devices out there, so there is a strong platform to build M2M applications for.  Next, the Apple app-store offers the ability for solution providers to safely send applications to end users.  While I am not totally sure of its capabilities here, iTunes could be a valuable tool to send audio and video clips for applications such as remote monitoring.  Finally, Apple has an extensive Retail presence through its Apple stores and this would make for an ideal place to sell any M2M solutions to the masses.

- For Apple, one likely move may be to get into the smart home space.  This would make sense since many people have many devices from Apple in their home (TimeCapsules, AppleTV, Mac computers) that could be used as a gateway for these applications, and since these devices all have a built-in method of sharing information with IOS devices through iCloud. 

- Finally, I would wager that Apple is always searching for ways to get iCloud used by more SMB and Enterprise business customers.  Finding a way to tie M2M data into these applications would drive more business usage of iCloud, which would ultimately drive more hardware sales.

Again, it is really fun to speculate, and that is all this really is.  I have no idea what is coming out from these three innovative companies tomorrow, let alone in the near future.

If you have other thoughts, feel free to drop me a note or comment. And as always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as antenna selection.  You can visit our web page @ www.novotech.com.  As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@)novotech.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).