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AirDesk focuses on the needs of the machine-to-machine marketplace, and corporate wireless strategies are more robust as a result.

The business community is rife with acronyms and other terminology shorthand, from B2B and ERP to CRM and MCSEs. Here’s another one to throw into the mix: M2M. Warminster-based AirDesk focuses on the needs of the machine-to-machine marketplace, and corporate wireless strategies are more robust as a result. CEO and president Michael Lang talks about the early days of wireless, communication without human intervention, and making money.

How did the company get started?

Fresh out of college my brother and I opened our first wholesale wireless distribution business in 1988. Our main desire was to work for ourselves and avoid the mainstream workplace. At first, we didn’t know what we wanted to do exactly but we knew wireless was emerging as a new and exciting business marketplace. After three successful years, we decided to open another wireless company in 1991.

The new company was named MobileQuest, which sold retail wireless voice and data products to the corporate enterprise. In 1997, I decided to change the name to AirDesk. Since then, AirDesk has focused on wireless data products and services that address the needs of the machine-to-machine marketplace (M2M). We sell hardware and related services that enable machines to communicate with each other without human intervention.

What was the wireless business like when you first got involved in it?

Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s the wireless business was, for the most part, regionalized. There were two airtime services providers per major metropolitan market. Wireless back then was a costly proposition for most individuals. Wireless voice products (phones) were very expensive and wireless data products were virtually non-existent. The clever wireless data products that were introduced failed miserably, mainly because the OEMs of those products had no idea what the customer wanted. They attempted to put products into the marketplace without understanding the frontline usability and didn’t know how to articulate the value proposition to the customer. Really cool wireless data devices without interrelated applications that provide customer value are destined to failure.

As wireless phone prices dropped and new carrier competition entered most major markets the voice business was king. It didn’t take long for the “free” phone offer to become commonplace in local newspaper advertisements and the like. With lucrative commissions paid by the carriers the large subsidies on hardware became commonplace. The nice part about such explosive growth is that everyone made money. Even people who didn’t deserve to make money made money.

What exactly is M2M?

Machine-to-machine communications covers applications in which wireless data is used to create a link between systems, remote devices or locations, and individuals. This link is typically used for collecting information, setting parameters, sending indications of unusual situations or taking care of an online transaction.

As wireless software and hardware evolve at an ever-faster rate, how do you keep pace and find the best products to offer your clients?

From a hardware perspective, AirDesk sells and supports best-in-class wireless core engines (modems) to customers making end products. Many of those end products have certain software functionality that is specific to the application, which their customer has requested. In order for AirDesk to keep pace we identify and maintain an alliance network to organize, partner and promote M2M applications and services.

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