After a bumpy period of several years, M2M will start to make a solid contribution in 2010 as operators begin to realise the potential revenues that can generated by M2M and embedded devices. Further, as operators and vendors look for fresh opportunities, the definition of M2M has been expanded to include any strategies for introducing cellular connectivity into almost anything that is not a telephone.
For example, e-readers are generating huge operator interest due to potential incremental revenues.
However, the challenge facing cellular-based M2M is the cost of embedding a GSM module. For example the cost of embedding a WiFi chipset is now a few U.S. dollars, while embedding GPRS could be US$40 or above, with HSPA being two or three times as much.
But beyond the possible cost barriers, operators will need to understand that they cannot pursue every opportunity presented by this fast-expanding market. Partnerships will be key to addressing markets such as healthcare and utilities, where the operator will be short on skills.
While M2M opens real prospects for mobile operators, they will need to decide whether they could achieve more by approaching this market as a smart pipe provider.