A number of posts over at Gigaom highlight two huge new markets for the telcos: homes and things. Of course the real money will be made on selling managed services to the utilities but they may decide to build their own infrastructure.
First the home energy management market, Katie Fehrenbacker points to these milestones as an indication things will be picking up in 2011:
- Verizon’s January launch of its long-discussed smart home and energy management pilot in New Jersey.
- AT&T recent acquisition of Xanboo, a decade-old firm that was one of the original home automation players and enables home owners to monitor security, energy consumption, and digital media across devices.
- Telco gear provider Motorola’s recent announcement of its intent to buy up home automation and energy monitoring startup 4Home via its communications subsidiary Motorola Mobility.
For an in-depth review see her GigaomPro article here. (subscription required)
The overall concept is fairly simple, and fairly obvious even 10 years ago. In order to better manage power consumption you need better data, because you can’t manage what you can’t measure! So data about power consumption needs to be pervasive through the power generation, distribute and consumption system. Both Google and Microsoft have a stake in the game but power monitoring isn’t very sexy and the end consumer has not paid much attention to it.
More from Katie:
“AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, meanwhile, want to offer energy management as a value-added service bundled with their Internet, voice and video products. They have already put out the expense of building out the networks, so for relatively little, they can add on energy tools to help reduce that thing called churn (when one service provider leaves the company for a competitor).”
The push for a digital home or whatever you want to call it is going to happen as soon as there is a little more consolidation in the industry. Like most things now its going to be brought to you by one of only a handful of companies that already control a huge part of your digital life.
Another article at Gigaom by Kevin Tofel tells a story about his work out practices and using RunKeeper Pro, an iPhone app to track his runs. He notes: “My personal training aside, the larger story here is about the growing uses for M2M or machine-to-machine connectivity, which is a network solution few consumers are aware of. Network operators really got their foot in the consumer M2M door with Amazon’s Kindle, which originally offered 3G data connectivity with Sprint’s M2M network while the current Kindle uses AT&T’s data network.”
Soon just about anything you can thing of will have sensors and be connected to the internet. Cars, houses, appliances will all communicate their status. The amount of data these devices will create is staggering and managing all of that data is going to take some kind of NoSQL wizardry. (Kidding!)
Om reports: “In the next five years, the total number of wireless M2M connections is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.0 percent, to reach 294.1 million connections in 2015. By then, M2M as a share of the total number of cellular connections is projected to reach 4.0 percent.”
Its going to be a wild ride for providers of these services as our homes, cars and lives get several new layers of connectedness.