As the mobile mobile market reaches (or exceeds) saturation in developed regions, another mobile market that is only just starting is recieving more and more attention from mobile players.
A forthcoming report from Juniper Research anticipates that the number of mobile connected M2M (machine to machine) and embedded devices will rise to almost 412 million globally by 2014- and that represents the tip of the iceberg of its future potential.
Mobile SIM cards have the potential to link up just about any object to the cellular networks. And though most will not have the revenue generating potential of a human mobile subscriber, ultimately the market will go far beyond the utility meters, buildings, cars and trucks that represent today's first round of connected machines.
For M2M, of course, scale is key, since ARPU for M2M and embedded devices is lower than for standard mobile services. There is also a "land grab" element to operators' current forays into the market since a single contract may represent thousands of devices which, because of limited churn, may not be available to operators again for some time.
It is likely that one of the smallest current mobile M2M markets represents one of the largest growth opportunities for M2M. Though there are significant obstacles to be overcome in creating a vibrant market for mobile M2M applications in the healthcare market, not least that life itself may depend on such applications, in time rising populations alone will guarantee a very large market for m-Health monitoring.
And while today m-Health applications use WiFi and Bluetooth linked to the internet to transfer data, it is only a question of time before the cellular networks and their expanded reach come into their own in helping alleviate the symptoms of an overburdened healthcare market.