What's 'M2M' and what isn't? We all know this is a question without a definitive answer, which is probably why it's so often asked. But we also know about the journey being more important than the destination, which is why we're proposing to ask it again - but in a BIG way.
Over the next weeks we want to build up the 'The Big M2M Conversation' around machine to machine definitions and the closely related question of M2M standards. We're planning a modest string of stories and video interviews which will illuminate various aspects of these topics, and we want you to respond: ask questions, answer questions, argue, get angry (whatever) and post your comments. Ideally do this below the stories (this story for a starter) and videos, but also feel free to email (email@example.com), or comment in our Linked-In TelecomTV group.
Then we'll gather your observations and feed them back as questions and topics for a major TelecomTV special which we'll broadcast over the Internet. More on this soon.
Why? Despite the M2M concept having been around for over a decade it still means different things in different parts of the industry, depending on who and where companies or individuals are and (guess what?) what incumbent businesses they're trying to protect or advance.
The GSMA, for instance, thinks tablets like the iPad should be thought of as M2M participants. Other observers are adamant that M2M is about 'classical' B2B applications and that 'consumer' gadget numbers will just muddy the waters.
And that's just for starters.
So we should first ask what's a 'machine' and is it appropriate terminology. You can see the thinking - M2M can be seen as 'machine' as opposed to human to human communications. M2M is about an automated exchange between 'things' and a central server which either controls or gathers information or does both.
But perhaps (data) Object2Object might be more useful? In a classic M2M application, after all, it's not the machines that are communicating but stateful data objects hosted on them.
These 'objects' monitor sensors to gather data and forward it; they may control relays and other electronics to turn functions on and off.
This definition has the advantage (or not, depending on your perspective) of opening up M2M and Internet of Things (IoT) to a blurred edge as far as 'machines' go. It could, for instance, rope in data objects which perform what might be defined as an M2M function, but do it on a general purpose end-user device, rather than a specific 'machine'. Does an app on a smartphone which automatically returns GPS location and accelerometer data to an M2M or 'Internet of Things' application, also count?
So let's itemise some issues. Have your say, raise your objections....
Why is an M2M definition important (if you think it is) or not?
Should tablets and other 'general purpose' connectivity devices be included as M2M? If so under what circumstances?
If 'no' what alternative definition do you favour and why?
4. Which device categories would be included (under your definition) and which not?
5. Is M2M just about easily-identified B2B and B2C applications (like home security, connected car, utility metering for instance). If so, explain.
6. What are the differences between Smart City, Internet of Things and M2M?
7. Are there more useful ways of subdividing this emerging market: eg. draw distinctions between sedentary and mobile 'machines' (such as fridges or shipping containers), between cellular/short-range radio/hardwired); short life, indeterminate life etc. Suggest your subdivision and explain why.
8. Will there be a major distinction to be made between 'top-down' commercial solutions and 'bottom-up ecosystems' driven by users.
9. Anything else you want to raise.
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