Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cellular IoT module shipments hit record levels

Steve Rogerson
June 12, 2019
Global cellular IoT module shipments increased 16 per cent in 2018 to a new record level of 221 million, according to Berg Insight. Annual revenues grew faster at 24 per cent, reversing the previous trend of decreasing average module prices.
The 3GPP standards for LTE – Cat M and NB-IoT – will contribute a lot to growth in the coming five years. These 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 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 the cellular IoT module vendor market share assessment show that the four largest module vendors have 61 per cent 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 per cent to US$1.85bn, with the total market value reaching approximately $3.0bn,” said 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 per cent during the year, reaching $189m 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 ten 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 Japanese electronics company Murata.