Global markets for cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) modules will experience smooth and solid growth trajectory in coming years, according to a new ABI Research study. The compound annual growth rate during the forecast period between 2006 and 2012 is expected to reach 31 percent.

Although cellular M2M module shipment numbers in the world’s three main industrialized regions—North America (including Mexico), Europe and Asia-Pacific—are approximately equal at present, these markets differ significantly from each other in character.

ABI Research senior analyst Sam Lucero says, “North America is a significant cellular market that differs from the other regional markets in three key aspects: the prevalence of CDMA air-interface technology; the significant share of the market comprised of OEM telematics; and the rigorous, expensive and time-consuming certification process required by the four main North American mobile network operators.”

Europe is considered to be the most important market, Lucero says, in term of its sophistication and openness to M2M, with technologies crossing a range of applications. Western Europe benefits from the ubiquity of GSM/GPRS technology, which helps promote adoption. Eastern Europe is at an earlier stage of market development and module vendors describe it as being more price-sensitive than the West, where a greater premium is placed on features, functionality and reliability.

On a unit shipment basis, Asia-Pacific is the largest market, but it is characterized by a fragmented assortment of air standards, and a majority of those shipments are actually for wireless local loop (WLL) applications. “Wireless local loop is something of a gray area within M2M,” notes Lucero, “because, unlike telemetry or telematics applications, WLL is centered more on enabling ‘standard’ fixed voice and data communications over cellular infrastructure. That does form the largest share of the market in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The diversity of the market characteristics is mirrored in the strategies, strength and weakness of module vendors. Many are global players, but have taken very different paths to address regional markets. “The Cellular M2M Module Market” study discusses these market forces, analyzes cellular M2M module vendor strategic responses, provides 2006 vendor market share data and forecasts cellular M2M module shipment and revenue growth for the period from 2006 to 2012, segmented by region, application and air interface standard.