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Europe Continues to Lead in Mobile M2M Apps

Worldwide cellular wireless M2M (machine-to-machine) connections are growing steadily, and are expected to exceed 297 million in 2015. According to ABI Research, their prior forecast of about 225 million connections by 2014 has now been raised to 232.5 million.

However, there are many regional differences in the growth pattern. Europe continues to account for the largest regional share with 110 million connections in 2015; North America will rank second with 79 million and the Asia-Pacific region third with almost 66 million.

"The major world regions show different drivers for cellular M2M markets. The European market is the most diversified and has the most mature deployments. The EU benefits from regulatory mandates surrounding eCall and smart energy," said Sam Lucero, practice director at ABI.

In North America the focus has traditionally been more on telematics, although M2M is now growing strongly in other areas including smart energy. Both telematics and energy are providing impetus in Asia-Pacific, but the markets are less mature, outside of key countries such as Japan.

Network operators providing M2M in Asia are NTT DoCoMo in Japan, Korea Telecom, and China Mobile -- which recently announced that it is serving five million M2M connections.

In Europe, the major providers include Telefonica in Spain, Telenor (Scandinavia), Orange Business Services (part of France Telecom), and Vodafone.

The four major cellular operators in North America, Verizon Wireless (which operates GM's OnStar mobile service), AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are all offering M2M, in addition to alternative providers such as Kore Telematics and Numerex.

Business model and operational differences exist as well.

European providers tend not only to set up distinct M2M business units, but to supply those units with their own M2M-specific network infrastructure. They're more oriented towards providing value-added services -- in addition to basic M2M connectivity.

In contrast, North American mobile operator M2M business units tend to use the service provider's main wireless networks for basic M2M applications.

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