We still need another infrastructure for IoT!

February 11, 2015

SIGFOX LogoI’ve been talking for years about the need of a network to connect “cats, bikes and smoke detectors” in order to reach the billions of connected devices people talk about. The only thing it needs to provide is heart beats, position and events, thus very very little data. The requirements are very cheap connectivity, very small and light hardware and tiny power consumption so batteries can last maybe 4-5 years. This infrastructure will complement the other ones we have and it will allow me to connect my dog for maybe 10€ a year without any over-night charging of batteries.

I have been in favour of Sigfox approach to this issue for years why todays announcement that Telefonica, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Air Liquide, GDF Suez, Eutelsat and U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management together with existing investors Elaia Partners, iXO PE, Partech Ventures and Idinvest invested 102 M€ in Sigfox came as really good news.
This gives the muscles for Ludovic and his team at Sigfox to really start conquer the world. And this is something many of my 36 members in the Swedish IoT Alliance SMSE have been waiting for.
Avanti!
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M2M in its teens – the industry is shifting gear

April 5, 2013
The M2M industry is rapidly leaving the first connectivity focused baby phase – thank god! – and enters the productivity phase. This is where we look at operational issues, capabilities and value. Vendors and operators are preparing themselves to be able to serve the market better and more efficiently. And new partnerships, alliances, initiatives and M&A activities pop up on a daily basis. This is all very good and makes life easier for developers, integrators and customers. But it is more about preparing for the business to take off than making it taking off. It mainly improves the capabilities to deliver in an efficient way.

Today’s initiatives are signs of a developing industry. Building blocks are put together into candidate platforms and architectures. As always most of them will fail over time but still it is an important part of growing up. Let’s look at a couple of recent M2M “teenager activities”:

  • Telefónica and Telit cooperate in M2M Air, providing managed M2M services globally
  • Etisalat group just joined KPN, NTT DOCOMO, Rogers Communications, SingTel, Telefonica, Telstra and VimpelCom in the M2M Multi-Operator Alliance
  • Ericsson and SAP announced a partnership at MWC and talk about the M2M Eco-system
  • Satellite operator Orbcomm acquired MobileNet who provides custom mobile data solutions for the heavy equipment and railroad industries
  • Wipro and Axeda announced a strategic alliance to provide services and end-to-end solutions to help organizations connect with any asset, leverage machine data to enhance business processes and develop new innovative enterprise applications.
  • TeliaSonera, France Telecom-Orange and Deutsche Telekom collaborate to increase the quality of service and interoperability for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications
  • Claro Brazil joins a growing list of Jasper Wireless operator partners including AT&T, América Móvil, NTT DOCOMO, Telefónica, VimpelCom, KPN, SingTel, Etisalat, Telstra, Rogers, CSL and more
  • Several operators including TeliaSonera, Swisscom, XL and have signed up with Ericsson to use DCP for improved M2M service delivery
  • AT&T has several M2M initiatives including AT&T Control Center together with partners like Jasper Wireless, Axeda, Sierra Wireless and SensorLogic.
  • Airbiquity and China Unicom are teaming up to provide telematics services for the Chinese automotive market
  • Vodafone Vehicle Connect and Towers Watson’s ‘DriveAbility’ programme will accelerate the pace at which insurers can get new services to market, and at a competitive cost
Looking at mobile operator subscriptions for M2M, the market continues to grow roughly 25-30% per annum. The number of cellular M2M subscriptions nearly doubled between 2010 and 2012 to reach 143.7 million according to Pyramid Research. They also claim China is growing over 40% per annum and will become the largest cellular M2M market this year. We should remember that a lot of M2M applications share cellular subscriptions or use other technologies to connect.

So operator’s M2M business is growing quite rapidly but from small numbers. In a fairly well-developed M2M market like Sweden, M2M subscriptions are roughly 20% of all mobile subscriptions today. But still most of the market potential is untouched. Policy-driven markets like smart meters, big global markets like connected cars and consumer oriented stand-alone solutions are all fairly well addressed. But small business is big business also when it comes to M2M, and these companies are only addressed by independent Service Enablers, developers, integrators and turn-key solution providers. The alliances, partnerships and M&A activities aren’t reaching that far. A company connecting 100 of their “things” per year in maybe 25 countries across the globe is simply of no interest to any of the large players. The same goes for ,a company who want to develop a specific application to connect 25 of their “things” in a country, unless they are filthy rich.

Success in SME will come from successful platform support for specialist service enablers, developers, integrators and turn-key solution providers. That has little to do with technical issues and a lot to do with trust and business models. This has to be resolved before M2M will grow up.


M2M Development für alle

June 18, 2012

There are many reasons why M2M solutions will hit society, businesses and people with enormous power. Most of them relate to what happens when we connect things and put computing on top but one specific force is democratization of development tools – a similar brutal force that Basic and Hypercard gave to the PC industry, and that Apple provided the mobile industry with the App-concept. When thousands or millions of developers get going, innovation, specialization and competition happens big way.

Arduino is an open well documented physical platform developed 2005 in the Olivetti town Ivrea, Italy. It is a platform which collect, compute and communicate data which makes it the perfect prototyping tool for students, hobbyists and professional developers to realize their device ideas. Today the affordable and easy to use development kits can be bought at the Radioshacks of the world. Nobody knows how many Arduino developers there are but over 300.000 boards have been sold, the ratio of cloning is currently estimated to one per original board and Arduino skills are more and more often requested in CVs.

Arduino supports Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and there are a number of boards available. They are really affordable and pre-assembled Arduino modules cost less than $50. The community is rapidly growing and it’s easy to join by for example following the Arduino blog.

Among the companies using Arduino for their tools and services are Google and Telefonica. And the more I dig into the world of M2M the more spectacular examples of Arduino projects I find. Imagine this: a 14 year old boy in Chile developed an Arduino machine which post a Tweet when detecting an earthquake and now this alert is sent to some 30.000 followers on Twitter.

This is only the beginning. The opportunities are massive but some risks are also involved. Many companies will experience difficult competition from unexpected directions and some will leverage these forces to strengthen their position in the market. Governments will see completely new solutions to old and difficult problems. And consumers will be offered new innovative services, many of them replacing products we buy today.

I’m fortunate to work and live in the middle of this period of great change!


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