The installed base for 802.15.4-enabled devices is forecast to increase almost fivefold over the next 5 years, rising from just under 425 million today to over 2.1 billion in 2019, finds ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com).
“The low-power, low-cost, mesh networking capabilities of 802.15.4 networks make them the primary wireless technology choice across a number of different vertical markets including home, building and industrial automation, smart metering, and home entertainment,” says Andrew Zignani, research analyst at ABI Research.
With support from a number of chipset suppliers including Microchip, Silicon Labs, Freescale, GreenPeak, and Texas Instruments, among others, annual 802.15.4 device shipments are set to grow from 206 million today to over 730 million in 2019. ZigBee-enabled devices, currently accounting for 74% of all 802.15.4 shipments, are set to continue leading the way throughout this time, reaching over 350 million annual shipments by 2019.
In particular, ZigBee will see strong growth in the home automation market, where the share of total ZigBee shipments will rise from around 9% today to 28% in 2019. However, ZigBee will face increasingly difficult challenges from IPv6-enabled alternative 802.15.4 technologies such as 6LoWPAN, including the Google backed, Thread, according to ABI Research.
“One of the challenges facing ZigBee is the current confusion between the numerous different profiles targeting different applications, making interoperability between heterogeneous ZigBee nodes and applications very difficult. The industry is therefore increasingly turning towards IP-based standards to address these issues,” adds Zignani.
ABI interviews with a number of industry players all point towards a growing demand for IP functionalities and an expectation for the market to consolidate around 6LoWPAN-based 802.15.4 solutions. The research group estimates indicate that IP-enabled 802.15.4 devices are set to account for a growing proportion of the market, rising from around 2% today to just shy of 35% by 2019. In contrast, while overall shipments will grow considerably, ZigBee’s market share is set to fall throughout the period, dropping below 50% in 2019.