It seems that Sprint is serious about the machine-to-machine (M2M) business.
That's not breaking news. But it has become fairly clear in the past few weeks that the carrier is pushing M2M with, perhaps, a little extra muscle. M2M isn't the sexiest of categories: Making sure that the refrigerated cars of a freight train aren't getting too warm clearly isn't exciting. From a carrier perspective, they also have a significantly different profile than communications involving people (especially teens) - the messages generally are brief and don't require much bandwidth.
But what it may not offer in stimulation it makes up for in volume. The list of potential uses is virtually endless. The other attractive element for a carrier is that once an account is set, there is little reason for the customer to switch. In other words, M2M represents a stable customer base comprised of a massive amount of small spenders. All told, it's a great business.
Sprint recognizes that and is acting accordingly. Its Open Solutions Conference was full of sessions that directly address M2M and the related mobile wallet category. EE Times reports that Russell Mosburg, the company's director of M2M engineering, gave a talk - most likely at the conference - in which he urged developers to look at M2M. The article hints at how serious the company is, though the writer seems to think California has seceded:
Sprint's dedicated M2M group currently boasts just 30 full time engineers, with a support staff of some 500 people, all based in the U.S. The firm also has a dedicated M2M Collaboration Center, complete with test labs, set up in California.
There are a number of other news items that suggest Sprint's keen interest in M2M. Sprint was recognized as the second-highest ranked M2M firm in the world and leader in North America by Analysys Mason, according to Danny Bowman, the president of the carrier's Integrated Solutions Group.
Earlier this month, Sprint and Sierra Wireless agreed to co-market the Sierra Wireless AirVantage M2M Cloud Platform. The release says that the platform will let users "develop, deploy, and manage all aspects of their M2M applications, including the operation of the communications device and connected products or machines." Sprint made what seems like a similar arrangement late last month with SensorLogic and certified ConnectCore 3G for use on its network. The release singles out M2M as an application that will benefit from the move.
That's a good number of announcements in a short time period. It could be a coincidence or the proximity to the Open Solutions Conference. The other possibility simply is that Sprint sees M2M as a lucrative business. And there is nothing dull about that.