I was chairing a couple of sessions at the Open Mobile Summit yesterday on the connected home and the connected car, or, as I put it, connecting the most and second most expensive things most of us will ever buy. There were many interesting topics for discussion, but a few in particular stuck with me:
- There was no issue with 2G switch-off for either segment. Clearly for connected home cellular is not really a big issue (unless we're counting smart meters) and for automotive they're already very much in a 3G (and increasingly 4G) mindset already. This is interesting because automotive accounts for 1.4 out of 2.4 billion cellular M2M connections in 2020 (see here for more details). If automotive doesn't really care about 2G switch-off, perhaps it's not that big a deal after all.
- Roaming charges was the big bugbear for the automotive OEMs. They are correct, of course, that the current set up is not fit for purpose. Stephane Lagresle of TomTom refered to the fact that people from Switzerland often come across the border into France to buy cars but once they get them home they find that the navigation system doesn't work because it is not in the 'home' territory. Clearly not acceptable. The recent European Commission decision on roaming rates will obviously bring prices down substantially by 2014. As I commented in a recent Machina Research report, the roaming fee reduction goes a long way towards the creation of a pan-European M2M market. It will certainly happen a lot faster for M2M than it does for anything else.
- In the connected home it was price overall that was the biggest limiting factor for adoption. This is completely understandable. For the applications that we are talking about (white goods, HVAC, home automation etc), to simply "put a SIM in it" as Vodafone Kim Bybjerg recommended has some significant cost implications. Even for smart metering, British Gas's Dean Keeling commented that lowering prices would help enormously. No big surprise there one might say. However, it remains true that cellular is not truly optimised for M2M in terms of price of services or devices.
- The vehicle platform won't really be an open application development platform for in-vehicle entertainment. It will be driven by and controlled by the auto OEMs. Initially there will be so few 'devices' on the market that it will represent only a limited opportunity for 3rd party developers. Secondly there needs to be a huge amount of attention paid to quality control.
Just a few nuggets from the sessions.