Machine to machine (M2M) technologies are not new, but recently a wide range of service providers, device manufacturers, application developers, system integrators, and other companies are developing products, establishing business models, and implementing strategies to stake their claim in the M2M market. A quick search of M2M press releases during the past six months resulted in over 100 announcements on the topic of machine to machine or M2M. Over 25% of these announcements announced partnerships and alliances to help expand the reach of their M2M solutions on a regional, national, and international level.

Partnerships and alliances are – and will remain – the dominant way vendors pursue the M2M market to provide buyers with a one stop shop for M2M solutions. Examples of partnerships include companies such as Jasper Wireless establishing partnerships with AT&T, KPN, and Telcel to link service provider networks with M2M devices including e-readers, navigation devices, and netbooks. Sprint’s Open Device Initiative includes partnerships with Numerex which has models for the design, certification, testing and launch of new M2M applications, and M2M DataSmart, which helps simplify the process of bringing new M2M products and services to the market.

Joint venture M2M relationships and alliances are pursued by fewer vendors. Last summer Qualcomm and Verizon Wireless established a joint venture called nPhase to support M2M solution deployment. In this relationship Qualcomm focuses on developing products and services, while Verizon Wireless is primarily focused on delivering nPhase Smart Services to enterprise customers in the US. A recently announced strategic alliance between nPhase, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone expands these M2M solution capabilities by enabling enterprises to activate, monitor and pay for M2M devices deployed in both Europe and the US, as well as have a single point of contact to provision devices that are connected to the Verizon Wireless and Vodafone networks.  

This year I expect to see further alliances, partnerships and acquisitions in the M2M arena as declining M2M device costs, widely deployed IP networks and regulatory mandates align to drive enterprise interest in M2M solutions to the next level and vendors seek to capture a share of this market opportunity. Do you agree that forces are finally aligning to drive new types of partnerships and alliances between vendors participating in the M2M market?