Berg Insight, the M2M/IoT market research firm, estimates that global cellular IoT module shipments increased by 76 percent in 2017 to a new record level of 237 million, fuelled by exceptional volume growth in China.
Until 2023, shipments of cellular IoT devices are forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2 percent to reach 1.1 billion units. The 3GPP standards for LTE – Cat 1, Cat M, and NB-IoT – will contribute substantially to growth in the next coming five years. These new standards are designed to be less complex to limit power consumption and are priced more favorably to address the mass market and make it viable to connect entirely new applications.
The results of Berg Insight’s latest cellular IoT module vendor market share assessment show that the three largest module vendors have 46 percent of the market in terms of revenues. “Annual module revenues for the three largest market players Sierra Wireless, Gemalto and Telit increased by 6.9 percent to US$ 1.17 billion, with the total market value reaching approximately US$ 2.5 billion,” says Sebastian Hellström, IoT analyst at Sweden-based IoT analyst firm Berg Insight. Sierra Wireless leads IoT module revenues, followed by Gemalto and Telit. SIMCom Wireless leads in shipments, but is only in fourth place in terms of revenues. Quectel is number two in terms of volumes and in fifth place in terms of revenues.
China has been the scene for significant M&A activity in the past years. ZTE offloaded its cellular IoT business to Gosuncn during 2016 and 2017. At the same time, Sunsea AIoT emerged as a new major industry player through the acquisitions of Longsung and SIMCom. While there has been some consolidation among the larger suppliers, the long tail of companies with activities in the market for cellular IoT modules is growing. A number of new players have been attracted to the market, particularly in the emerging NB-IoT segment. Examples include Nordic Semiconductor, Foxconn and WNC.