M2M: Chips with everything

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Imagine a future where energy meters check themselves and photographs from digital cameras are uploaded to a user’s file automatically. A world where security and efficiency of the data transfer will be more secure and free from interference than current forms of wireless connectivity, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

This is the world of embedded devices,  which are being hailed as the future of efficiency for both businesses and consumers.

In the UK, energy provider E.ON is looking at rolling out smart metering, which could mean 30 million new connected devices for the mobile network that wins the deal.

Vodafone’s July opening of a special division to develop revenue streams from non-mobile products with embedded SIMs is another step in the development of a new sector that promises to drive new revenue streams as traditional voice and data margins are squeezed and reduced.

The new division is run by 100 staff who have the job of convincing corporates to implement such machine-to-machine (M2M) functionality within their organisations. 

This gives Vodafone the opportunity to increase its customer base and market share of connected SIMs. Curiously, Vodafone and its analysts are unable to offer specific forecasts of the numbers. 

Yet the Vodafone initiative is important, as it shows M2M is evolving into a significant industry sector. There was much talk about M2M’s potential at this year’s Mobile World Congress. 

The topic is expected to be a big talking point at next year’s Congress when the GSM Association (GSMA) will reveal the identity of the winner of its ‘Embedded Mobile Initiative’. This was a competition, to unearth new opportunities and applications for connected devices across a range of industries.

Full article in Mobile News issue 447 (September 7, 2009).

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