A few short years ago (earlier this decade), wireless connectivity was a novelty. Some folks had wireless home networks back in the early 2000s, but not many, and wireless gadgets relied mainly on RF broadcasting. (Think cordless phones and baby monitors.) It was around this time, circa 2002, that Motorola started exploring a vision of connected devices and the connected home. In a bid to bring new products to retail, the Motorola Connected Home business introduced the Simplefi networked audio player. It was ahead of its time. Promising to stream music wirelessly from a PC, the Simplefi entered the market at a time when mp3 players were still rare, and the device never got an upgrade from RF to Wi-Fi. It was perhaps an inauspicious start to the connected home space for Motorola, but we’re still talking about the very early days of wireless connectivity.
Fast forward a few years. Motorola’s Connected Home business returned its focus to video and Internet delivery as a means of enabling connected devices for consumers. This part of the CE industry grew increasingly important as more and more devices started supporting Wi-Fi, connecting not only to each other (as with networked stereo systems in the home), but also to the Internet. Meanwhile, Motorola’s Networks business started zeroing in on mobile broadband, another means of getting consumers hooked in to the Internet from a wide range of devices.
Fast forward a couple more years. Connected devices are everywhere – from smartphones, to mp3 players, to cameras, and digital photo frames. Even TV has gone mobile, accessible through the Internet and a variety of TV Everywhere services. Motorola’s Connected Home and Networks businesses have merged to become Home and Networks Mobility, and the focus for the entire division centers on broadband and media delivery. Given consumer demand for connectivity, the business has positioned itself nicely in a growing segment of the market.
Fast forward just a bit more. Parks Associates predicts that the CE industry will ship around 200 million connected devices globally by 2013. It’s an estimate that some have called conservative, and it’s one that would have been nearly unimaginable around the turn of the millennium. While there have been some setbacks and missteps along the way, the speed of progress has been nothing short of remarkable. And what’s Motorola doing? Leading the way with deep-fiber networks, DOCSIS 3.0, digital compression, and 4G technologies. After all, someone has to make all those connected devices work. It’s a market with a short history, but a long, exciting road ahead.