The machine-to-machine (M2M) sector is difficult to track because it is diffuse in a couple of ways. On one hand, there are many elements in an M2M platform – from basic connectivity to the intelligence that may be specific to a particular application – that make quantifying a chore. In addition, the line between M2M and other types of communications is a bit fuzzy. After all, all electronic communications is two or more devices communicating. The precise line between M2M and other approaches is in the eye of the beholder.
However, just because something is hard to quantify doesn’t mean it isn’t a big deal. M2M – which is a complementary concept to both the cloud and the evocatively titled “Internet of Things” – is a really big deal. Much of the established and growing consumer and commercial GPS industry, home automation, remote sensor (i.e., monitoring pipelines) and myriad other sectors depend upon M2M. Each of these potentially is a big winner. Put them all together and the result is a massive sector.
Late last week, ABI Research reported that cellular M2M module shipments grew 21 percent in 2012 compared to 2011 and will almost reach the 100-million-unit market in 2015. The firm said that it is “interesting” that while North America is set to do well, the biggest gains are expected in Latin America, the Mideast and Africa, where – no pun intended – telematics will be a driving force.
More good tidings came from Rogers Communications, a Canadian broadband and wireless provider. Yesterday, The Globe and Mail reported that the company expects to double revenue from M2M during the next two years. Rogers expects to reach the $100-million-per-year mark in 2015 by providing M2M for traffic lights, parking meters, automatic teller machines and similar services. That list, by the way, is a good indicator of how pervasively M2M is integrating itself into the fabric of day-to-day life. The story offers a vignette that further makes this point.
Machina Research also sees growth. Late last year, the firm published predictions about M2M growth. It projects that worldwide connections will increase from 2 billion at the end of 2011 to 18 billion at the end of 2022.
Perhaps more interesting is Informa’s breakdown of usage. The consultants project consumer electronics and intelligent buildings will account for 70 percent of connections. The release offers far more numbers and details than traditional press releases, and is worth a close look.
There clearly is a lot going on in the sector. This is demonstrated by an almost certainly incomplete roundup of news of only a few days: “Smart M2M” provider Lantronix announced that it is expanding Arrow Electronics’ efforts in Asia-Pacific; Etisalat and Pacific Controls said that they are creating green M2M applications and support in the Mideast, Africa and Asia; and Novatel Wireless gained approval for its MT3050 from Verizon.
The bottom line is that M2M is all around us. Two of the greatest technical trends of our day – mobility and the cloud – ensure that M2M will continue to thrive for generations.