MWC day 3: The rise of the machines
With machine-to-machine (M2M) back in vogue, MWC has proved a focus for a string of M2M announcements.
The GSMA itself announced updates to its Embedded Mobile initiative, a program aimed at vertical markets such as consumer electronics, healthcare, automotive and utilities.
The association, together with 25 telcos and other M2M players, published a set of industry guidelines to reduce design complexity in what continues to be a hugely fragmented market. It also announced its own partnership with the Continua Health Alliance, an alliance of healthcare and technology organisations, to promote embedded mobile.
Vodafone announced that it will work with Verizon Wireless and nPhase, a joint venture of Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm, in global M2M over mobile. The emphasis is on an international managed service across the multiple countries.
The nPhase platform, which integrates with the Vodafone M2M global service platform, will provide customers with management tools to give them a single view of their international M2M. It will also offer a single point of contact for provisioning devices that are connected to both operators’ networks. The plan is to provide a single invoice and a single point of contact for technical and other support.
KPN announced that Konica Minolta is using its M2M Corporate service, enabled by Jasper Wireless, to provide connectivity for CS Remote Care, a remote diagnostic system across 32 European countries.
Deutsche Telekom is to set up a new M2M ‘International Competence Centre’ in Bonn. T-Mobile says it is making good progress with M2M deployments as part of its ‘Connected Work’ strategy in Germany, and the new center will step up the pace of rollout. It provides M2M solutions to customers in nine business sectors, but a particular interest at the moment seems to be in automotive, where it is working with both BMW and Continental.
Telefonica announced its decision to invest in connected e-readers and stressed its commitment to encourage growth of connected devices for e-learning in the education sector.
Perhaps to emphasise that M2M is also about consumer devices, the GSMA award for Best Embedded Mobile Device was won by Isabella Products and AT&T for VizitTM, a two-way, fully interactive digital photo frame. The joint winners of the Best Embedded Mobile End-to-End Service category were Samsung and KT, for a connected digital signage and consumer electronics convergence service, and Philips and Cinterion for System One, their m-health respironics sleep therapy service – something the exhausted attendees of MWC will surely be signing up for.
– Pauline Trotter
Verizon embraces Skype
Another sign that network operators are preparing to accept the LEAN role identified in Ovum’s Telecoms 2020 report is Verizon Wireless’s decision to support Skype on a range of smartphones including Android and BlackBerry devices.
The service includes both Skype’s voice and IM capability, and unlike comparable offerings from other carriers appears to be based on VoIP over wireless data rather than a bridge to circuit-switched voice. Further details are expected in March; from the very limited announcement made at MWC, it isn’t entirely clear whether the offering is limited to international calls or would also be available to callers within the US.
Nokia, Intel launch MeeGo - but Qt is the key
Nokia and Intel are merging their respective Linux initiatives to create a common software platform targeted at the broadest possible range of connected consumer electronics. However, the real win is in tying developers to the MeeGo platform.
The new MeeGo platform (not, we hope, named after the Tibetan version of the Yeti) effectively combines Intel’s Moblin platform (hitherto aimed squarely at netbook devices) with Nokia’s cross-platform application environment Qt and the cellular integration work Nokia has done in Maemo.
Turning MeeGo into a mainstream platform for CE will be no mean achievement in its own right. However, it will ultimately be largely meaningless how many devices it is deployed on if the consistency provided by the underlying OS is not matched by its ability to provide a true multi-screen application platform for developers.
For that to happen, several things need to occur. First, Nokia needs to prove that Qt development really can scale across different categories of device. Second, it needs to prove the benefits of that scalability to developers. Third, it needs to persuade developers that Qt is a better cross-platform, cross-device application and UX platform than alternatives such as Adobe Flash/AIR, Microsoft Silverlight and HTML5.
Given that Qt’s erstwhile rivals are either already widely deployed or likely to become more so, and already have sizable developer communities, that may be a big ask. But the big prize is certainly worth aiming for.
– Tony Cripps