Although embedded wireless is still in its infancy, there already are some notable success stories. The Amazon Kindle is perhaps the most visible embedded wireless device. Based on a recent filing by Sprint Nextel, Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney estimates that Amazon sold 500,000 Kindle units last year, and he forecasts the device will become a $1.2 billion business by 2010.
But the Kindle isn't alone. T-Mobile USA also launched a consumer embedded wireless product--the Cameo picture frame--that can wirelessly receive and display pictures sent by users. The Cameo was launched prior to the 2008 holiday buying season and is sold in T-Mobile USA retail stores with the T-Mobile "Stick Together" branding. According to T-Mobile USA's national director of M2M John Horn, the key to success in this area is to make it easy for various players to do business with the operator by creating an open environment.
Separately, Verizon's Open Development Initiative, which launched in November 2007, now has more than 45 devices that have been certified for the carrier's network. Those devices range from a tablet PC for healthcare professionals to a ruggedized barcode scanner for inventory collection. "Verizon has a wide range of devices in this program that are a result of us opening up the network and launching the ODI program," says Maurice Thompson, director of business development and solutions for Verizon's Open Development Initiative.
But the market that some expect to see the most growth, at least initially, is in embedded laptops and netbooks. "This is the area that has the most money and the most backing in the consumer space," says Miguel Myhrer, principal with Accenture.
Indeed, some of Panasonic's Toughbook rugged laptops, although targeted to the enterprise segment, are outfitted with the Qualcomm Gobi chipset for wireless connections. A number of other netbook and laptop makers also are installing such connections. And the price of the required module is declining, making it more affordable for OEMs.
For more on embedded success stories, check out the FierceMarkets Embedded Wireless Device virtual event June 9. There will be a panel on embedded success stories at 11:15 a.m. EST.