AT&T made an announcement this week that isn't getting much press. It didn't make Techmeme or the mainstream media's technology sections. But this under-the-radar announcement is evidence of perhaps the next big thing that will rock the Internet: machine to machine (M2M for short) connectivity. It's also called the "Internet of Things" or "Web of Things".
What is it? Simply put, it's machines rather than people connecting to the Internet. It's non-smartphones and non-PC's hooking up, like your eReader, your car, your GPS, home appliances, and loads of automated industrial devices.
The truth is this isn't a trend that is coming. It's already here. In fact, there are already more non-human users than human users on both the AT&T and Verizon networks. Out of the two, AT&T is outpacing Verizon by adding more non-human subscribers each month.
AT&T is not likely to be unseated from its title anytime soon.
This week, AT&T announced it's partnering with four companies that specialize in M2M application development: Axeda, ILS, Sierra Wireless and SensorLogic. Once again, it's all about the apps; the key to devices interfacing with the Internet.
For people, the conveniences are limitless; empty pill bottles that request their own prescription refills with the drug store (it already exists), sensors that track inventory, tracking devices for lost pets, cars that upload latest engine diagnostics to the service department before it actually goes to the service department, etc. etc. etc.
What's also limitless is the data mining, which is also already happening. Forget spam, your biggest worry to come won't be the latest phishing scam. More likely, it will be something like your refrigerator or home alarm system ratting you out to marketing companies.