Can Microsoft become a key IoT player ?

A recent survey on Twitter produced the following results:

msft-iot

It seems Samsung is perceived as a more important IoT player than Microsoft. Also, one third of the respondents believe that Microsoft will abandon the IoT arena. However, when Apple launched the iPad, Microsoft tried to come on the market with a similar product. After a quick failure, the company from Redmond understood its mistakes, took its time and brought Surface to the market.

Related imageThe question is why Samsung is so strong and why it is perceived as so strong.  After all, the Korean giant  is best known as a mass producer, not a as a pioneer. IoT is a technology based on diversity. This contrasts with mass production.

Related image

My guess is that Microsoft is seen as an underdog. This could be a mistake from Samsung. The West coast IT company is known to make mistakes, but also recognized as a street fighter. And street fighters are good at wining matches.

Smart City and IoT are closing the gap.

Here are the projects from the machineQ Smart City Hackathon :
https://technical.ly/philly/2017/06/14/15-projects-machineq-smart-city-hackathon

I think it is a good idea to combine civic apps with IoT. After all, every great product  / service started as the answer to a small but painfull problem: improve safety in parking lots, identify potholes on the road, save energy costs.

Thumbs up, guys!

The presentations at the M2M World Congress : rolling out new M2M services

In the two months left to this big event, I plan to comment on some of the topics addressed by the 30 presentations. The comments will relate to what I would like to hear from the speaker. Hans DahlbergHead of M2M Services at TELIASONERA will talk about rolling out new M2M services.

Traditionally, the M2M market is divided into the  so-called verticals. From the beginning. This is an approach for a mature market, with well-established rules. That is not the case for M2M.  It still is a new technology by telco’s point of view. Let’s agree to disagree. M2M is the single mostly unknown technology. no one knows exactly to what extent it will shape the future. Most foresee a huge growth. Some are very confident. Some are more pessimistic.  I would like the presentation to address some of the following questions:

– how do you plan for  the new services ? own market. department / market studies from 3rd parties / transfer of technology from the IT world /  just copy what the competitors are doing / brainstorming

– do you have regular brainstorming sessions ? if so, have you implemented  some of the ideas debated ?

– how do you reward new ideas ?

– which are the main contributors of new ideas ? marketing / sales / R&D. In which order ?

– why are you rolling new M2M services ? expansion / new player in the arena /  because the competition does

– can you present right now a live demo of such a new service ?

– how good is your customer support  for a brand new service ?

I firmly believe that the single most important question is why? why are you you playing in the field of M2M ? Let’s hope the question shall be answered.

The strengths and weaknesses of the M2M World Congress 2014

What a topic! Would someone dare to question the might and reasons of the M2M  World Congress  (M2MWC2014) two months before the would even take place ? I think someone would.

It isn’t about the buzz. M2M existed for many years, yet nobody saw fit to notice it until some small company made a lot of money out of it. I won’t fill in the details, but the idea is that nothing is new under the sun. The wheel cannot be reinvented because it already  has.

I pondered over the agenda of the M2MWC2014. Very impressive. New markets. Big Data. Big words. New. Future. Embedded. Trends. Verticals. How cool is that ! I mean, those are the buzzwords we have seen, heard of, spoken of for the last two years. Same thing again and again. This is the language of M2M. But is it really so ?

M2M is supposed do be decentralized. Instead of that, everything is hierarchically put in one of the not so many verticals.  M2M is said to be an emerging technology, yet we see the same mistake made in the IT industry. Once a technology becomes  available and  the early adopters   take a firm grip to that, the big players, which are also the late adopters, start to plan what to do. The problem is that the most fundamental question remains unanswered. Why ?

Why has M2M gained so much importance ? Is it because it is a cool technology ? Or because the telco companies have been left behind by small, smart, speedy startups of 50 engineers who overtook the global market of short messaging ? Let me be understood. M2M is a huge opportunity to do business. But why is it important ? Because it offers visibility.

For years, the traditional way of making money has been to have a huge base  of subscribers  using the basic services like making telephone calls, sending messages and … that was all. Then, the social networks came and the momentum shifted. The telcos lost their competitive advantage. What is M2M market but a renewal of the social networks, machine version. Imagine a Facebook-style M2M network. Would it be so different from the existing systems.  I don’t think so. But let us not diverge from the main idea of this article.

In just two days, there will be some thirty  20-minutes presentations. Everyone who attended executive briefings knows that 20 minutes is just not enough time to present ideas. Not on behalf of big players.

There is too much to be said in so little time available. But companies want to be seen.

I think the biggest weakness of the M2MWC2014 is the visibility. At the bottom of the main page  of the official website, there is a big chunk of  text with no links. Useless. There is one thing that stands up: the word M2M repeated  every three words. Useless. No links at all. What a pity!

I think the role of such an event is to convey revolutionary new ideas. I see no such thing, not from the summit programme, not  from any of the left menu links. It is too big to fail.

Unless it already has.

Here comes another poll about your confidence in the M2M market.

Feel free to add your own answer.

 

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.

M2M and the predictive maintenance

I have read recently about the potential use of m2m in the predictive maintenance (PM) of a car.
blog bosch Great ideas about potentiality. Still, that there is no realism at all. I ain’t critic, but I would like to see more articles about real world cases. Common people are interested in personal gain.

I noticed in the aforementioned article what’s the use of IoT/M2M. Great idea. Probably it will be implemented as standard by 2020. I hope the car makers will include the predictive maintenance before 2015 in some cars.

The article mentioned a 3-step process: data capture, data integration (in some storage system) and data-based prediction making. Everything is connected with everything else. No matter how interesting the idea might be, there is one thing that decides the go/no go decision: how close is the theoretical idea to the mass market production. The tens of billions of M2M devices  take into account the massive flood of the market. The single most important aspect of a product is the cost-profit relation. Given the fact that the M2M devices are supposedly  low ARPU-oriented, there comes the need to have many of them.  Thus, the idea must be marketable before its incipient phase.

Next comes the feasibility study. Is it realistic ? Which is cheaper to the final user : to buy a new predictive-enabled car or to add the sensor/M2M subsystem ? And here comes the $64000 question: what if the insurance companies will use the data to monitor the drive style of the guy who simply wants to lower his bills ?

Again, what must be implemented first is legislation. M2M will generate a lot of data traffic, some part being sensitive. Only with a safe M2M technology will the predictive maintenance be efficient and effective.

What is IoT? And M2M ? Can we swap them?

The IoT is a great acronym. It doesn’t mean anything as a word. Eye Ow Tee. Still, telecom companies are fighting new wars on this new ground. They are invisible wars, because the common guy still has no idea what is at stake. Come on guys, it is about the future of the world, the super, mega, automated and interactive world of science-fiction movies. R2D2 meets Robocop.

The “I” comes from internet. Really ? Internet is about web browsers and PCs. No way, this is wrong. So wrong that only 10 percent of the data traffic is web data. Only 10 percent ? How could that be ? First, most of the traffic is binary: movies, music, pictures, business data. We are far from the beginning back in the early 90’s.

The “o” stands for of. Made of. Connection. Communicate. Transfer. Data. Still, the letter cannot do justice to a notion so profound that we talk about it without giving much thought. Let’s just stop here for the moment. More to come in a jiffy.

As for the “T”, well, it is for things. Bad name. Bad name. John McClane meets Simon Gruber. In fact we are talking about intelligent things. Software. Hardware. Machines.

So what is this IoT thing about ? It is a metaphor about machines communicating with other machines. In a word, just like Matrix. Wait, in that movie it was about intelligent software. Well, the “T” refers not only to a piece of hardware, but also to some software running inside it. Could this be possible ? Why not? As a matter of fact, such things have existed for the past fifty years. Fifty years ? No way. Yes way! Just think about the railroad crossing signs that magically start blinking when a train nears by.

Old stuff. Classic stuff. Buzzword. Does it sound familiar ? It surely does. The telecom giants will not reinvent the wheel. Why bother to do it when they can simply resell it? Now IoT seems less of a magic word an more like a marketing propaganda.

What about M2M ? “Em”, “Too”, “Em”. Well, in order to close a sale one must repeat the word till the customer takes the wallet out of his pocket.

The first “M” stands for machine. It is a misconception. In reality it stands for “mobile”. To be more precise, it stands for “SIM chip inside a moving device”. Is it difficult to read that phrase? Yeah, so I thought. Much easier with the letter. The figure “2” is a classic abbreviation meaning “to” or “from … to”. Like so many buzzwords like B2B, P2P, C2C, B2B2C and so on. It is sexy. The customers like it. As for the second “M”, it has the same meaning like the first one.

Basically, M2M is a way to make one SIM card communicate with another. of course, the salesman will come and say that it is not true, that you have many benefits, gains, profits, and so on. But still, M2M is just two phones in the middle of call, except that there are no people.

What about comparing IoT with M2M. Well, here comes the misconception. The IoT is as abstract as the Matrix was pervasive. The M2M, on the other side, is valid only under coverage by the telecom company. So, technically speaking, IoT is not M2M. What about putting SIMs into a satellite telephone ? Now we are talking business. The IoT includes M2M and this is where the companies make mistakes. Some guy has estimated the number of IoT devices to be 50 billion by 2020. He was very conservative. Between 2013 and 2020, the creative people called inventors will put on market so much new things that 50 will be replaced by 500.

We live in an ever evolving world. One thing is sure: there will be much talk about IoT, much more about M2M and this will make bloggers happy.