Qualcomm and Verizon Wireless formally launched their machine-to-machine wireless venture on Thursday and named it nPhase, after a startup Qualcomm bought in 2006.
The equally owned joint venture is led by Steve Pazol, who founded nPhase in 2003. He later became vice president and general manager of the nPhase unit of Qualcomm, called Qualcomm Global Smart Services. The joint venture will offer middleware and application programming interfaces to help developers bring machine-to-machine hardware and software to market. The company's scope extends beyond Qualcomm and Verizon to other vendors and carriers around the world.
Machine-to-machine communications encompasses devices that automatically send information to a central system, such as water meters and vehicles, and consumer products that use a mobile network invisibly, like Amazon's Kindle e-reader.
The concept may represent a big opportunity for both chipmakers such as Qualcomm and carriers such as Verizon. Whereas most people only have one cell phone, they may eventually carry several devices that can talk directly to a mobile operator's network, including cameras and multimedia players. On top of that, businesses that want to track their assets might hook up connected sensors to any number of things, and they probably would keep up subscriptions for those sensors for many years.
The two companies aren't alone in pursuing this opportunity. AT&T Mobility has said it is talking to many partners about possible enterprise machine-to-machine offerings. On Tuesday, IBM announced WebSphere Sensor Events middleware for collecting and interpreting data from a wide range of sensors and tags in the field.
Verizon and Qualcomm announced their joint venture on July 28, saying fragmentation has held this market back. In addition to providing development tools, nPhase plans to offer services to help secure, provision, manage and activate devices. The board of nPhase includes Qualcomm Chief Operating Officer (COO) Len Lauer, Verizon Wireless COO Jack Plating, Qualcomm Executive Vice President Andrew Gilbert and Anthony Lewis, Verizon's vice president of open development.