Global cellular IoT module shipments increased by 16% in 2018 to a new record level of 221-million, according to research group Berg Insight. Annual revenues grew faster at 24%, reversing the previous trend of decreasing average module prices.
The 3GPP standards for LTE – Cat M and NB-IoT – will contribute substantially to growth in the next coming five years, the company says. These new standards are designed to be less complex to limit power consumption and are priced more favourably to address the mass market and make it viable to connect entirely new applications. In the first half of 2019, several vendors announced 5G NR modules that will become available to developers in the second half of the year. Early adopters will include companies active in the PC, networking and OEM automotive segments.
The results of Berg Insight’s latest cellular IoT module vendor market share assessment show that the four largest module vendors have 61% of the market in terms of revenues.
“Annual module revenues for the four largest market players Sierra Wireless, Sunsea AIoT, Gemalto and Telit increased by 13% to $1,85-billion, with the total market value reaching approximately $3-billion,” says Fredrik Stalbrand, senior analyst at Berg Insight. Sierra Wireless leads IoT module revenues, followed by Sunsea AIoT and Gemalto. Sunsea AIoT leads in shipments and Quectel is number two in terms of volumes and in fifth place in terms of revenues. Fibocom reported the highest growth of 122%during the year, reaching $189-million in cellular module sales.
The year marks the first in which a China-based vendor ranks as high as the second largest cellular IoT module vendor by revenue and six of the top 10 vendors were from China in 2018. Sunsea AIoT emerged as a new major industry player in 2017 through the acquisitions of Longsung and SIMCom, which had been the market leader by volume for three consecutive years. While there has been some consolidation among the larger suppliers, the long tail of companies with activities in the cellular IoT module market is growing. A number of new players have been attracted to the market, particularly in the emerging NB-IoT and LTE-M segment. Notable examples include the major Bluetooth LE SoC vendor Nordic Semiconductor and the Japanese electronics company Murata.