Tag Archives: Wireless Communications Alliance

Oh, you mean a Maxwell Smart home

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“Chaos is an opportunity for people like me,” said Tom Kadlec, one of the founders of The Homeworks Group. They do the hard work of integrating and managing home automation systems for about a thousand subscribers. Both he and his partner have electrical engineering degrees, which is great for them but not so good for the home handyman who majored in, say, political science.

Come quick, 99. I’m surrounded by ARMed phones.

Protocol agnostic and easy to use: home automation needs heavy helpings of both if it’s to ever find its secret sauce. And the industry doesn’t seem to be much closer to solving it than it was a year ago. The missing piece is still a universal, consumer friendly gateway/hub device that can tie together different products using different protocols.

Last Thursday evening, the Wireless Communications Alliance rolled a discussion about home automation into its annual holiday party. Hosted by Qualcomm, the event featured four experts from different corners of the industry: two semiconductor makers, a market intelligence analyst and a custom installer.

“Our industry is based on a promise to solve all the problems,” IDC‘s Michael Palma admitted. “A lot depends on the service providers.” Gianluca Viale, from Renesas, offered patience rather than a solution, saying whatever it is, the silicon will still be there to support it whenever it happens.

Fabrice Hoerner, senior manager of technical marketing at Qualcomm, said they’re working on combining “multiple smarts:” smart connectivity, smart gateways, smart devices and a smart cloud.

“Everyone is building their own gateway, but there is an opportunity to bring some of them together,” Hoerner said. “If there is money to make, the industry will adjust to this potential.”

Maybe. But so far, home automation chaos has eighty-sixed home control.

Mobile could claim half of online spending in 2013

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“Fifty percent of e-commerce happens on mobile devices in 2013,” said Scott Raney, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, when asked to go out on a limb and predict next year’s big surprise in mobile telecoms at the annual Wireless Communications Alliance’s venture capital evening. His fellow panelist didn’t cut off the limb, though. Quite the contrary.

“A large e-commerce player will get to 50% in 2013,” said Kevin Talbot, co-founder and managing partner of Relay Ventures. “I know who it is.”

The event took place on 14 November 2013, a week and a half ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s dangerous to make wild predictions that could be debunked while memories are still fresh, but Raney and Talbot had nothing to fear.

Adobe Systems tracks online spending. They say that this year, 24% of the money spent online on Black Friday’s and 22% on Cyber Monday came via via mobile devices.

Showrooming – going into a store, finding what you like, then finding a better price online – is helping to push consumers toward mobile purchases, and could account for mobile’s higher share on Black Friday, when shoppers are in stores and not at their computers. “It drives Best Buy crazy but it provides such value to the user,” said Tae Hea Nahm, founding general partner of Storm Ventures.

Year on year, Adobe says mobile doubled its share of online transactions over the opening weekend of the holiday shopping season. In 2011, mobile accounted for 13% of online sales on Black Friday and 11% on Cyber Monday. Do it again next year and mobile will account for near enough to half of e-commerce dollars.

Not so wild a prediction after all.

Not hot in 2013: mobile payments

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“Mobile payments is like waiting for Godot,” said Omar Javaid, managing director of BBO Global, speaking at a recent What’s Hot (and What’s Not) in Mobility 2012 forum in Mountain View. “Every year is the year of NFC but it never happens.” The problem, he says, is that processing payments is a system play. It’s a space that’s controlled by a few big players and they’re not very interested.

Quinn Li, managing director of Qualcomm Ventures, agreed. He made the point everyone is trying to get a piece of the mobile payment value chain, but in order to it you first need to get everyone else in the chain to agree and then you need to handle a lot of transactions quickly. “Payments is a pennies business and you need scale,” he said.

But even if start ups find it difficult to take a penny or two, the fact that the transaction is happening at all creates an opening. Scott Raney, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, said he’s encouraging entrepreneurs to find ways to add value to mobile transactions rather than trying to handle the payments.

Creating loyalty programs on mobile devices is one example. Consumers will still carry around a few credit cards, but they won’t put up with the clutter of cards and keychain tags for every store in the mall. Javaid pointed to Apple’s Passbook iOS app as proof of concept, saying he wouldn’t use it as a substitute for his Amex card but it’s handy for Walgreens or Starbucks plastic.

It’s an end run opportunity: mobile apps, or even devices, become integral to transactions, but outside of the secure boundaries guarded by banks, credit card processors and the other behemoths of the financial world.

The What’s Hot (and What’s Not) forum is an annual event organized by the Wireless Communications Alliance. This year’s event took place on 14 November 2012 at the Fenwick & West law offices.