5 new devices that carriers could start selling tomorrow (and I don’t mean a phone)

Remember the days when the only device you could buy from your carrier was a phone (smart or otherwise)? Actually, for some carriers that’s still the case but many now offer a small selection of Internet-connected devices like tablets and only a few go further (like Deutsche Telekom which offers mobile devices that perform health checks). But why stop there? If there are going to be 15 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015, (and an eye-watering 40 billion devices by 2020) as Cisco predicts, the carriers could be the ones selling them.

Got any ideas about what they could sell? I’d like to hear them.

In the meantime, here are 5 connected devices carriers could sell besides the iPhone 6S – and they can do it today, or tomorrow (I can wait):

Nest Thermostat

If anything can bring back cool to boring devices, it is definitely the Nest thermostat. It connects to a WiFi network and can be controlled from a smartphone. It learns when you’re in and out based on how you initially set temperatures, and will make the changes all by itself. And if you think it’s impossible to fall in love with a thermostat, think again: Wired’s Nicole Wakelin tried it out and enthused:

“Did it live up to the hype? Oh, did it ever”

And people are buying it. While connected home initiatives are popping up around us, being able to sell an easy solution for this market segment can be a good start with little friction this early in the game.


Emails on your wrist courtesy of The Pebble

Remember the digital watch? Well it’s back – sort of. But now it’s a smartwatch. In fact, you’ve probably heard already about the Pebble which started its life as a Kickstarter project and is now headed to a wrist near you. Connecting to your smartphone using Bluetooth, this is a nice companion for the gadget-conscious geek. Designed to be used as a secondary display for your phone, you will need to install the Pebble app on your phone first.


The humble doorbell suddenly isn’t so humble anymore. Instead, with the help of crowdfunding site Christie Street, it’s becoming another “home communication” device in the form of Doorbot, a nice gadget that you install on doors, allowing you to see and talk with whoever is at your doorstep. And like the Nest thermostat, the Doorbot relies on an existing WiFi network to connect to.

Connected Camera

Cameras are fighting back against smartphones in the form of an Android operating system and SIM cards offering cellular data connectivity to upload photos online. First-mover position in this 4G/LTE camera space went to the Samsung Galaxy camera already being sold by both Verizon and AT&T, in addition to regular retail outlets. Who will be next?

Digital Toys

(I want one)

Digital toys connect to the Internet and are the next big thing in toys (besides apps on the iPad). My kids would love the Sphero, “the world’s first robotic ball that you control with a tilt, touch, or swing from your smartphone or tablet”.

I think that digital toys could be just the right product for some vertically targeted MVNOs to sell in their stores.


*   The number of items carriers have to offer is going to grow rapidly, and it isn’t going to be limited to black slabs that make calls and run apps.

*   The services associated with such devices is something that carriers should be a part of. They can either join the game or be left out of it. For the device manufacturers, having the backing of a carrier can be a recipe for success. And carriers don’t need to stop at services – they can brand these new devices too, together with support and upgrade services

*   More devices means more focus on the type of devices being used and the need for shared data plans instead of flat data rate ones: how about paying per uploaded image for your camera than on the data being uploaded?

*   I need someone to buy me a Sphero for my birthday.


One Comment

  1. Anoop Ojha
    Posted January 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The carriers as of today are able to sell cell-phones and tablets because they are able to cross subsidize the initial cost of ownership by term committment hence generating monthly revenues.
    If this cross subsidy is taken out of equation then carriers will not be able to compete with regular retailers – bestbuy, amazon, newegg etc in selling the devices.
    For the carriers to be able to sell mentioned devices they will have to come up with some value addition that can remain unique to carriers. It is a tough challenge.

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