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Mobile Machine-to-Machine Comms Outlook

Continued strong growth in machine-to-machine (M2M) communications markets will see about 95 million cellular M2M modules shipping in 2013, according to the latest ABI Research market study.

Regarding shipments to the three main market segments -- telematics, telemetry, and wireless local loop -- about 34 million devices are expected to be for telematics and 39 million for telemetry.

According to senior analyst Sam Lucero, "Until about 2011, the major market growth will be found in the telemetry segment, since it encompasses a broad range of applications including smart metering, POS terminals, and remote monitoring and control applications."

After 2011, we expect to see a spike in telematics applications. These exist now, but from 2011 will be driven more quickly by mandates such as Europe's eCall initiative, which will see cellular connections in every vehicle, and in North America by a much stronger competitive reaction to OnStar -- virtually of the major automakers will come out with OEM telematics programs.

Commercial telematics also set for strong growth as fleet managers use telematics to reduce fuel costs and increase overall operational efficiency.

Average selling prices are expected to decline across all air interface standards through about 2010, after which they should level out. Will current global financial and economic uncertainties negatively affect this market?

There is no immediate indication of this, although, says Lucero, "A few companies have told ABI Research that the economic uncertainty will have a direct impact; we're in the process of surveying selected industry stakeholders to evaluate whether our forecasts will need to be refined."

However one here-and-now pain point in the market is the ability to develop applications easily and cost-effectively. Module makers such as Wavecom are involved, as are standalone software vendors such as Sensor Logic and equipment players such as Digi International.

It's not clear yet whether application developers will settle on one or another preferred type of ecosystem partner.

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