AT&T Dreams Another Dream Of Non-Phone Wireless Devices

It’s the hope of every wireless operator: One day, in the not so distant future, mobile phones will be just one part of the equation. Soon cars, machines, electric meters, MP3 players and portable DVD players will all be connected wirelessly to the internet, each delivering a monthy, subscription-based fee.

Verizon talked up this possibility when it made its much-hyped “we’re opening everything up” announcement. And today, AT&T announced a new Emerging Devices unit, under the leadership of Glen Lurie former president of National Distribution for AT&T Mobility:

The new organisation is a key component of AT&T’s business strategy to further grow its wireless penetration and develop new distribution models — and it builds on AT&T’s industry-leading work with enterprise customers to enable specialty devices to access its wireless network. AT&T expects many of the electronic devices that consumers and businesses use today will be enhanced with wireless connectivity. This will drive the emergence of new categories of devices and applications.

“High speed wireless broadband service can enhance a huge variety of gadgets, including many consumer electronics such as personal computers and laptops, GPS systems and digital cameras,” said Lurie.

The question here is, what are the expectations? Does AT&T expect people to sign up for multiple accounts for each items they want web-connected? If so, they’ll be disappointed. Perhaps there will be opportunities for some incremental revenue, but we suspect most consumers just want one flat wireless bill that covers their various needs.

AT&T would also be smart to think along the lines of one of the most successful implementations of wireless internet we can think of: The Kindle. The e-book downloads items through Sprint’s network, but ther relationship is between Amazon and Sprint, not the customer and Sprint.

Meanwhile, how about some progress on connecting the everyday in our house. We’ve been waiting for that refrigerator that orders our food for us, for as long as we’ve known about the internet. Can we get to that first?

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