The lack of paths

In an article I’ve read, the author gives a very concise analysis of the present and future medical career of M2M. I liked the article, despite its lack of realism. Here we are  today and there  we would like to be tomorrow. It is visionary. Before having the product, one has to imagine it.

I have seen many articles very well written, structured the same way: small initiatives in the present, a lot of  possible and/or potential  solutions in the future, excessive usage of the modal verb will and its derivatives. It is sad that each time, the gap between present and future widens, without any foreseeable bridge to be constructed.

It is like the bridge over the Gibraltar. No one is able to suggest a viable/sound plan, yet, would (!) it already be in place, many problems could be solved. The real problem arises from a single fact: the research has moved from universities to private firms.  Even open initiatives are tributary to big companies. What is necessary to provide a fully functional prototype? Vision, enthusiasm, people and money. Spare, rare, dare, fare.

It is because of the bureaucratic way the companies function that the M2M is moving so slowly, when it should have twice the development speed that  internet had in its early years. What  made internet famous and widespread were a universal language (HTML), multi-platform browsers and websites. I do not mention the network itself, even if the analogy with the 2G/3G/4G is obvious.

Let’s discuss the three key elements.

The language. As far as I have seen, there is no initiative to develop a universal language. The few bits of information I managed to get from manufacturers indicate one thing: fear of failure, fear of losing a small market share.  The usual argument is that the M2M devices are communicating  automatically with the rest of the world. Just plug them and they will work. Amazing! The telecom companies are so jealous that no information about open initiatives transpire on the blogs. When Apple launched the iPhone, the touch screen was available for years. The product wasn’t something new, yet it made a revolution.

The multi-platform browser. In other words, a system (software/hardware) able to interact with the devices. There is even less information about this part. All the existing products are proprietary. The research community is a simple watcher. The browser part is what a geek would call a simulator. No way. A simulator when there is no standard language ? Well, someone needs to start with something.

Finally, the website. In M2M speaking, the portal. This part is the most secrete of all. You may read that Telefonica, DT or Vodafone launch an M2M portal. Without being customer, it is impossible to see what they offer, there is no way to compare the portals, zero competition at the application level and everybody is stuck.

I understand that they are afraid. A solid company, full of innovations, shouldn’t be afraid of the future. On the contrary, it should be open to any initiative. Unless there is no clear path, just a struggle near the walls of the global village. Which I am afraid is true.


One thought on “The lack of paths

  1. Thanks for the feedback on my blog post. I agree with your comments, I think the industry is very fragmented and it makes it difficult to see how to bridge the gap between present and future. The incumbents, both industry and telco’s are partially responsible for this, but I see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and I believe it is coming from opensource initiatives. Opensource will lower barriers for new players, maybe not in healthcare initially, but in M2M for sure. This will create more competition and lead to a common language and platform.

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