Verizon Wireless, Qualcomm form M2M joint venture

By Brian Dolan

Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm announced a joint venture to provide advanced machine-to-machine (M2M) services, including wireless healthcare applications, devices and services. The as yet unnamed joint venture will be led by Steve Pazol, Qualcomm's VP of Global Smart Services.

M2M is broadly defined as the market for devices that connect through wireless markets to each other, wireless sensors connecting to in-home wireless hubs, for example, as opposed to connecting mobile phones to the network. "The Internet of Things" is another common way to describe the consumer side of M2M: household appliances that wirelessly connect to the Internet are top of mind examples.

"M2M is a rapidly growing market projected by some analysts to reach more than 85 million connections globally by 2012," Pazol said in the company press release. "The next five years will be a significant period of innovation in M2M. Qualcomm and Verizon expect to create a company focused in evolving niche aftermarket strategies to embedded product standardization strategies, driving down costs, increasing performance expectations and enabling impactful new business models."

This morning at Qualcomm's Smart Services Summit here in San Diego, Verizon Wireless VP Open Development Anthony Lewis explained that the joint venture will include everything "from the very, very simple devices that are just doing data bursts... to more complex devices such as medical [devices], that need huge data [throughput.]" The joint venture, which is equally co-owned by both Verizon Wireless and Quaclomm, will leverage Qualcomm's M2M technologies and Verizon Wireless' open network certification program as well as the carrier's sales team.

By leveraging Verizon Wireless sales team, Lewis promised that the JV would push the M2M industry to progress quicker. "This is no longer a niche," Lewis said. "Connections are the future... and wireless needs to get beyond any individual handset, no matter how smart."

For the healthcare segment, M2M has traditionally supported asset tracking, or RTLS, in facilities, but Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm see a much wider market opportunity thanks to wireless sensors that can automatically track and monitor vital signs and transmit the data points wirelessly to devices or online portals.

Following Lewis and Pazol's remarks, West Wireless Health's Dr. Eric Topol took the stage for his presentation. He began his remarks by noting how excited he was about the JV, but advised the companies:

"Hopefully you will put a lot of time and resources into healthcare, because that's where the real crisis is today."

For more on the joint venture, check out this video clip from CNBC this morning: