In Apple’s latest stir last week with its debut of the iPhone 5S and 5C, I was reminded that these consumer devices hold an intriguing M2M opportunity within their casings. Many pundits have already referenced the expanded business value of the 5S, most noting how the fingerprint authentication will enhance security of business-related apps and data on the device, but it also appears that simpler app distribution and licensing at volume could carry distinct advantages for business users and IT.
On the M2M side, we are starting to see these consumer smartphone and tablet devices play an increasing role in certain M2M applications. Off-the-shelf devices generally deliver a low-cost, non-custom, high-performance application platform to speed time-to-market for solution providers.
This is particularly the case in the industry subset that is driven by “discretionary” rather than “discrete” applications. What I mean by that is that smartphones are most suitable for applications that are not constantly collecting data or monitoring for exceptions, towards a singular purpose such as monitoring soil moisture for automated irrigation of crops. Instead, they are put into use by and at the discretion of the end-user.
Examples stand out in healthcare and payment processing, where consumers can install a Walgreens blood pressure monitor at home vs. taking a dedicated device from their HMO. Or, seemingly everywhere these days we’re seeing small businesses plug a Square credit card swiper directly into their smartphone, as opposed to purchasing and maintaining a Verifone terminal.
Importantly however, and I cannot stress this enough, the iPhone has not become an M2M platform of choice industrially. Yes, the 5S can help to drive adoption further for the reasons stated above and the fingerprint security enhancements, but currently Apple is NOT opening the phone up for third-party M2M development. If it Apple elects to do so, we can expect to see accelerated use, especially if the 5S upgrades move to iPad later this year (My assumption!).
Moreover, the device is quite pricey if being considered for a role in dedicated applications, hence its use in discretionary areas as mentioned above. iPhone will never be solely used for M2M, but as an add-in to enhance user value, there’s a great amount of development potential.
by Alex Brisbourne, President and COO
As the president and chief operating officer of KORE, Alex has over 20 years of experience in the networking and telecommunications industry, in Europe, North America and Asia. His expertise and areas of concentration center around wireless, enterprise and fixed line services. In his current role at KORE, he continually strives to improve company growth, by ensuring the M2M marketplace and KORE customers are well served by members of the KORE team worldwide.