Mobile broadband modems used in mobile devices and computing outside of smartphones continued to decline over the first half of 2014 (1H 2014), according to the latest study from ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com).
The market intelligence firm anticipates a 27% drop in unit shipments from full-year 2013 to 2014 to 53 million. Forecasted to be valued at US$3.5 billion in end-user revenues from the sale of modem hardware, vendor ecosystem consolidation continues with some modem makers shifting focus to M2M modules, while other suppliers have been acquired or divested their R&D effort entirely.
“Earlier last year, we predicted the decline based on an evolving market for both business and consumer adoption of computing solutions,” says ABI Research Senior Practice Director Jeff Orr. “Increased form-factor choices from tablets to 2-in-1 ultraportable PCs have pushed mobile broadband modems further down the list of must-have features. Mobile device data sharing plans are helping bring awareness to Mobile Hotspot Routers, though these offers still remain rare on a global scale.”
Highlights from the firms 1H 2014 and full-year predictions by modem form-factor include:
° USB modems are projected to decline 35% YoY in unit volume, though 60% of total mobile broadband modem shipments in 2014 are expected to remain USB. The convenience of plugging in the stick to an existing portable computer is likely to retain USB’s volume lead through 2019.
° Embedded modem module shipments in 2014 have been impacted by Apple shifting its iPad mobile broadband strategy away from the use of a module and towards design-in modem chipsets. Low overall adoption of mobile broadband on mobile computing devices continues to plague growth opportunities.
° Mobile hotspot routers, smartphone-sized and able to provide mobile broadband access to a variety of Wi-Fi-enabled devices, remain the bright spot for modem connectivity. In 2014, more than 14 million devices are expected to ship, up 11% year-over-year.
The majority of mobile broadband modem shipments support either the HSPA or HSPA+ air interface protocols with nearly 36% of 2014 shipments expected for each protocol. Modems supporting 4G technologies (LTE and WiMAX) are forecast to be included on only 9% of worldwide shipments according to data from the leading modem OEMs [original equipment manufacturers].
“LTE continues to be a driver for smartphones, though its impact has not been felt in other device form-factors,” says Orr.