Is simplicity the key to M2M?

This week, the M2M Zone was on the floor and in the conferences at the CTIA Enterprise and Applications show in San Diego, California, and one topic that was stressed from some of the top industry executives was simplicity.  There is no question that the technology behind M2M applications is complicated, and it will remain complicated.  The simplicity these executives were referring to was in the eyes of the consumer.

In his Keynote speech at the M2M Zone Conference on Wednesday, John Horn, president of RACO Wireless (Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.), spoke to an audience of colleagues, competitors and spectators about the importance of simplifying the product.

“That should be the focus of everyone in this room,” said Horn.

He mentioned Steve Jobs, former president of Apple (Cupertino, Calif. U.S.A.), as someone who “simplified an industry.”   No one can argue with Horn; Jobs took complicated products – the iPod, iPad, iPhone- and made them easy.  These products revolutionized the technology industry, but they were simple enough where consumers understood the product and saw its value.  According to many executives, this is the key to being successful in the M2M industry today.

Glenn Lurie, president of Emerging Devices at AT&T (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.) was another executive with an opinion on the subject.   According to Lurie, simplicity is maybe the only thing separating a product from success and failure when it comes to consumer connected devices.

“We need to make it simple, not intimidating” says Lurie at a GSM Association press briefing on Monday.  “If we don’t we are going to fail.”

Lurie solidified his statement by citing a study done by AT&T on the Amazon Kindle.  The study involved asking Kindle owners questions about how they thought their device worked.  Lurie said the majority of people in the study didn’t know or care how the books got onto their device, they just cared that it worked.  Furthermore, the majority of those using the device didn’t even know it was a “connected device.”

This is only going to become more prominent as the M2M industry is set to grow by large numbers, and more and more devices are to be connected.

“Anything with a current running through it is going to be connected,” says Lurie.  “Because it needs to be smarter.” 

As products are made smarter by companies, they need to remain simple for consumers.


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