Is Huawei’s New Device the M2M Equivalent of 3M’s Post-it Note?

We just saw a review about Huawei’s new Ascend Mate SmartPhone that features a 6.1” touchscreen, and it was far from positive. In summary, CNN Money’s Adrian Covert found the Huawei product’s market placement to be in the less than ideal “Phablet” zone between phone and tablet. We agree with Adrian in one area, it is probably not an ideal size for a phone. But, at the same time, we believe this class of mobile product can possibly experience the same type of success as 3M’s well known Post-It product.

Here’s a quick summary in case you did not know the 3M Post-It story. A chemist at 3M was trying to create a super strong adhesive but the formula failed for that application. It was only much later that the permanently tacky but not so strong adhesive eventually found a consumer and business market where it excelled. This is not to say that the Huawei product is, pardon the pun, tacky. In our opinion, the Huawei’s 6.1” product would be an excellent “Bring Your Own Device” M2M platform. It is just at the right balance where it easy to transport but also where the larger display can function as a Human Machine Interface (HMI) display. Furthermore, the larger form factor allows for a bigger battery and longer time between charges. Here is how that might work in a few m2M applications:

Industrial: Many industrial machines have to be adjusted for operator ergonomics and preferences. At the same time, due to multiple work shifts and operational flexibility, machines don’t always have the same operators. The operator arrives at the machine and places the mobile device in the docking cradle. The device provides a customized HMI and the operators preferred machine settings are transferred to the machine. The operator logs on and that act, coupled with the possession of the registered device, serves as two-factor authentication. Many operational processes can be enabled and enhanced by this type of M2M method.

Transportation/Automotive: In transportation market for M2M, infotainment and telematic are two classes of applications that would be a good fit for the Ascend Mate’s type of function and form factor. If it were docked on the driver’s panel, it could transfer driver preferences where it could optimize vehicle settings. Unsafe activities like texting while driving or game playing would be locked out. The lock-out feature would also make insurance companies very happy. This brings us to the telematic applications where insurance will play a big part in M2M adoption. Drivers can get insurance breaks if they continually exhibit safe driving habits. Since products like the Ascend Mate are intended to be a phone, they contain the necessary cellular connectivity for verifying safe driving. Since these devices would be docked to the vehicle instead of embedded in the console, they could move with the driver from vehicle to vehicle. That would work particularly well for drivers that frequently use rental and/or have shared vehicles. By providing driver and passenger mobile device docks as opposed to full infotainment displays/systems, auto manufacturers could save themselves and customers money. The passenger docks would, of course, allow full texting and gaming functionality.

A few final thoughts:

  • Like many M2M solutions, universal standards have to be set or these types of HMI applications and products will never be transferable across and within markets.
  • Huawei reports that the Ascend Mate touchscreen works well when users are wearing gloves. This is a good attribute to have in many M2M markets. 
  • As stated in the latest VDC Views report on M2M, in many applications such as those found in industrial settings, it is generally preferable to use embedded components designed for those markets as opposed those targeted for consumer products.
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