Group wants to kick start embedded mobile market

The potential market for consumer and industrial goods that could connect to 3G mobile networks is huge.

Backed by Huawei Technologies and operators including Telefónica and Vodafone, the GSM Association (GSMA) has launched the Embedded Mobile initiative, aiming to bring down prices of 3G modules that can be embedded in cars, cameras, health monitoring devices and other machines by developing common standards and platforms.

The potential market for consumer and industrial goods that could connect to 3G (third-generation) mobile networks is huge, the GSMA said.

There is an opportunity to put modules into 750 million different devices if the price is right, according to David Pringle, spokesman at GSMA.

"The whole idea is to bring economies of scale to this market, and to do that we have to decide on a common approach to a number of things," said Pringle.

For the Embedded Mobile initiative to work more companies will have to join, which is something the GSMA is well aware of. "The reason for announcing it is actually to get more equipment vendors, chip makers and consumers electronics manufacturers in the program, so we can all work on a common approach," said Pringle.

He expects to see more members being announced around the time of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, and then different sectors can sit down around a table and discuss what they need from these kinds of modules.

High on the list of priorities will be to develop an API (application programming interface).

"If you can standardize that you can bring down the cost of the modules, and the you get modules into more and more devices, create more scale and bring down the cost again," Pringle said.

The market for embedded modules in devices other than mobile phones, laptops and modems already exists, but it is quite fragmented, according to Pringle.

"It is primarily a 2G market at the moment, and we are looking at turning it into a 3G market," he said.

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