Sprint-Nextel (NYSE:S) may open a center in the San Francisco area to foster the development of the machine-to-machine ecosystem. Danny Bowman, president of Sprint's integrated solutions group, told the Wall Street Journal that the company wants to tap local tech talent and believes that as a wholesale provider of Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network, it has an edge in attracting M2M customers.
Sprint was an early leader in embedded devices--it provided the wireless connectivity for the first generation Amazon Kindle ereader. Amazon later switched the Kindle to AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) network so it could offer international roaming to Kindle buyers.
But Sprint lost some of its early lead, primarily because of big pushes in this area by competitors such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). AT&T recently reported that it had 5.8 million connected devices on its network and added 1.1 million in the first quarter. Verizon said that it has 7.3 million connected devices on its network.
Sprint hasn't disclosed specific connected device numbers, but Bowman estimated that the company has "a couple million" devices on its network. A few of those customers include the Alzheimer's Association, which along with partner Omnilink, uses remote monitoring to keep track of Alzheimer's patients and give them more independence. Sprint also works with Amtrak to use digital signage to provide passengers with breaking news and weather updates.
In a separate interview with Reuters, Bowman said that Sprint is also looking to embed wireless in consumer-facing devices, including tablets, gaming devices, ereaders and picture frames. The carrier will have a "handful of devices" for the holiday shopping season.
"Sprint will have a great portfolio in the second half the year," he said.
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