Last week I tweeted that 90% of the booths at Mobile World Congress (MWC) were promoting something IoT-related. The small minority that weren’t marketing IoT were peddling coffee, beer or paella. Everyone from network operators to core technology providers, chip vendors and enterprise software companies all had an IoT story.
While the GSMA seems to struggle with the transition from connected mobile devices to connected things, vendors realize that there will be hundreds of billions connected consumer and business assets and probably never more than 5 billion smart phones and tablets.
The other reason MWC struggles with connectivity beyond phones is that there are far more networks than GSM (or cellular in general) even with its various flavors from 2G – 5G. For one thing, many connected assets actually still communicate over wired networks (heresy at the GSMA) and there are at least a dozen different wireless networks and protocols for connected devices. The Laws of Moore and Metcalf are converging in a fantastic way in this segment which is driving better, faster and cheaper connectivity and intelligence. Complex, multi-protocol communications and computing power can now run on inexpensive System on a Chip (SOC) architectures. This has been and will continue to be a game-changer.
It will be interesting to see if the GSMA steps up to embrace the Internet of Things or continues to cling to the still quite enormous opportunity and dollars associated with mobile handsets and tablets. If the crowds in Barcelona are any indicator, they will have their cake and eat it too.