And that’s all today’s government announcement says, really. All the rest is hype. It will be possible for local authorities to allow trials on roads they control. Despite the headlines, this is not about driverless cars being in full use by next year.
A really rather good and sensible article in the MIT Technology review pointing out the immensity of the driver-less car challenge, and reporting that others (i.e. not Google) are scaling back expectations about when automated driving cars will really be available.
Described here in this post on Smart Chimps. A real internet of things approach, based on using interfaces to existing platforms rather than the silo’d services from which telcos hope to make money, either by themselves or by white-labelling the services of others. Here it’s bring your own hardware, bring your own connectivity, and define your own services. Of course, there will be plenty of customers who don’t want to do any bringing or defining, but are they in the market for anything at all? And will the telco services really address their need for something that works right out of the box, or will even these need to be configured in ways that will defeat this sort of user? I suspect so.
I chaired a panel in the M2M stream at Informa’s grandly titled Digital Services World Congress, with representatives of four operators – all of them involved in the Global M2M Association. It was a nice session – livelier than I was expecting, with some interesting contributions from the audience.
One thread gave me pause for thought, though; a discussion about how operators could, on the one hand, make cross-border operation seamless and simple for end-users, and on the other hand charge a premium for such operation that would be justified by the high level of support they would provide.
I couldn’t help thinking that if the service did really work well then users wouldn’t see the value of the support. There was some spirited attempt to square this circle, along the line that the support might not be visible to the end-user (say, the driver or the washing-machine user) but it would be visible to the OEM/auto manufacturer that would be the operators’ customer. I can see the point, but was not really convinced. In any case, what is the point of complicated technological solutions aimed at making high-bandwidth services affordable even for roaming machine users? Isn’t it simply a case of the operators solving a problem of their own wholesale business model?
Again, there was an answer – international roaming really does cost more, and the high charges just reflect this. The fact that this didn’t produce any comment – let alone groans of complaint – speaks volumes about who the audience was. I’m not sure whether anyone present really believed it, but they all seemed content that it could be said with a straight face. Does this also suggest that operators have a sneaking suspicion that their M2M services are after headed for the door marked ‘Bit Pipe’? Otherwise, and if you think you will be selling applications and integration, why bother to ensure that the pipe itself remains expensive?
I’ve written my first independent analyst report, about the Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) provider Senaptic. It is part of a putative series of “Weather Eye” reports, about companies that might turn out to be interesting even if they are not very big or visible now.
The whole independent analyst thing is still a work in progress, without a formal delivery platform or very clear business model. So the report is available for free, for anyone who wants to download it, from this link. Let me know what you think of it by posting comments on this post. There will be more posts about other similar providers, and about the domain, to follow.
AT&T LTE customers will soon be able to make calls on the LTE network using a technology that they should never have heard about. This is only news because support for boring old telephony didn’t figure in the original plans. No new services, just decent voice quality. So the voice quality before was…?
Featured here, in the latest trendhunter mailing. Although the post says it’s about ageing consumers turning to home automation to remove the mental and physical burden of everyday task (more on that here), a lot of the things featured have a strong geeky/DIY flavour. Since most of the ageing consumers I know have trouble with their TV remotes, I can’t see them using configurable lego-like blocks to build their own automation solutions.
What the IoT really really needs is to have its ‘Netscape’ moment – a horizontal platform that will enable others to develop content and applications, securing in the knowledge that the layers below are taken care of in a way that is invisible to them, if not necessarily straightforward or simple. Tinamous is not the only start-up to have based itself on the social network metaphor (there is Ericsson’s unfortunately acronymed “Social Network of Things”, now more attractively “Social Web of Things“), so that users’ “things” can develop relationships with each other and with processes, but it looks lightweight and sort of cute. I’ll keep an eye on it.
The British satirical magazine Private Eye has a column called “warballs” which collects fatuous, tendentious links to the events of 9/11 and the War on Terror. It might time for an “IoT-balls” column, if this article in The Guardian is anything to go by. It’s under an “Internet of Things” banner headline, but the link is really, really weak.
A corporate tie-up between British high street retailers Dixons and Carphone Warehouse is presented as if it had something to do with IoT – was this in the original PR spin, or a desperate attempt by a flummoxed analyst to make this story sound interesting? The connection seems to be: Dixons sells lots of consumer appliances, of the sort that could be connected to applications on the Internet of Things; many of those applications will be accessed via smartphones, and Carphone Warehouse sells a lot of those. Ergo, this is an IoT alliance. There really isn’t any more to it than that. The rest of the piece is about the relentless logic of corporate merger cost-cutting.