M2M is dead: Long live IoT? - Embedded.com

M2M is dead: Long live IoT?


(Editor’s Note : This is the keynote given by Allen Proithis, InterDigital executive vice president, at the May 2, 2013 Telecom Council Mobile Forum M2M Workshop. In it he presents a historical perspective on the current excitement about the Internet of Things in the context of earlier efforts such as M2M, CDPD and telematics.)

It is wonderful to be with you today at the Telecom Council event and a big thanks to TIE for graciously agreeing to be our host. It is unfortunate that on such an exciting day that I need to share some sad and tragic news – our old friend M2M is dead.  Just yesterday it seems that M2M was racing along, basking in the attention of industry and opportunities around the world. Alas, he was struck down in his prime.

I have been well acquainted with his family for many years. I first met M2M’s grandfather, CDPD almost 20 years ago. CDPD was an exciting character and a pioneer in enabling some of the earliest solutions in areas such as transportation. He was born running and seemed to be just what was needed for a number of specific opportunities. I remember one trucking company that was able to run their business with 20% less vehicles just by knowing where the trucks were at all times. Poor CDPD – he gave us a critical glimpse of the possibilities, but his small heart and painfully slow data rate crushed his fragile, young frame.

Luckily CDPD’s son, telematics, picked up where his father left off. Do you remember the enthusiasm when telematics hit the scene? He was the Justin Beiber of the telecommunications industry for a number of years. Large crowds of screaming fans, his name constantly invoked as the future and not a minute of rest for his supporting entourage.

Telematics was definitely on to something and everyone knew it. The challenge was that the hype did not match the maturity of the market. It was typical to see projections of $40B industry in just three years. When the market did not materialize at the level of inflated expectations, the opportunity timeframe kept shifting forward. This market pressure caused telematics to fade away, a visionary but a messenger of unfulfilled promise.

Fortunately for us, this stress of market needs against industry expectations lead us to the son of telematics, M2M.Benefiting from experiences of its illustrious ancestors, M2M hit the ground running. It had it all – market interest, reasonable expectations, vertical applications and mobile operator support.

This combination of attributes energized its friends at module makers, system integrators, communications providers and big data. M2M was the closest thing yet to the vision of devices communicating with other devices without human interaction. But the greater opportunity was still elusive, tethered to the cord of a cellular module.

A SIM card is the foundation of M2M but it is at the same time a limitation. Its economics and technical character limited it reaching the full potential of the market. And so as part of the natural order of things, it died. But by doing so, it gave birth to its ultimate incarnation – Internet of Things. Billions of connections, access and device agnostic, the true potential of market finally reachable.

M2M is dead – long live the Internet of Things!

Thank you for your indulgence during my eulogy for M2M. It may appear strange to proclaim the death of an industry that is just starting to realize its potential. My point is that when you fully define the opportunity before us, the real and complete opportunity is the Internet of Things.

M2M, as defined by a SIM-based world, is certainly a large opportunity. But it dwarfs in comparison to what is the Internet of Things. Some call it the Internet of everything, but by any name it is the next massive industry opportunity in the years to come.

  It represents the opportunity of connected everything, everywhere , in every way, and not just limited to cellular connectivity. And, of course, those billions of connections open the door to new opportunities, new business models, new applications, new reasons to want connectivity, just like the current generation of smartphones and the apps they run gave meaning to the connectivity we used to have simply to connect us via voice calls.

To read more, go to M2M is dead? 

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