AT&T Inc wants to add wireless links to car entertainment systems and consumer devices to keep track of everything from parcels to wandering children, according to a top company executive.
Glenn Lurie, AT&T's head of emerging devices, has been working to expand the company's mobile service beyond phones, forging deals to add wireless services to almost 20 consumer devices, such as e-readers, mini-computers and digital photo frames.
Thanks to a host of forthcoming gadgets, the business could bring in as much as $1 billion in annual revenue over the next few years, Lurie told Reuters ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The trick is to find ways to keep growing even as the vast majority of the U.S. population already own cell phones. That means more devices. In the next few years, Lurie said, there could be as many as three wirelessly connected devices for every person in the United States.
So far AT&T has deals with personal navigation device makers and several e-reader vendors, including Kindle supplier Amazon.com and bookseller Barnes & Noble. Lurie said he sees more business from the next generation of existing product categories this year.
The executive also expects 2010 to bring a host of new location-aware devices -- ones that use global positioning systems (GPS) to track an item, a person or a pet. A wireless connection then informs the device owner of its location.
There's going to be more and more there in terms of anything you want to track, whether it's a parcel or a container or a kid, Lurie said.
He noted that tracking devices, while affordable for businesses, were still expensive for most consumers but noted that prices would come down.
This is probably a second half of 2010 thing, he said.
Lurie also expects to branch into automotive technologies this year by connecting systems such as entertainment services for back-seat passengers and car safety systems for drivers.
He also aims to connect health related devices including fitness-aids and dieting reminders.