Machine-to-Machine: market finally taking off as smart devices influence each other

15/01/2014

Machine-to Machine communications is enjoying swift growth, as the growing number of connected devices influencing one another gives rise to a new age of the web, according to a new report.

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The report, from IDATE, indicates that the market for services and equipment that support communictions between devices, known as ‘machine to machine’ communications, grew around 30% in volume and over 10% in revenue during 2013 , with the market to reach €40 billion in 2017.

Machine-to-machine communications is often referred to as the third era of the web, after 'mostly static' Web 1.0 and 'interactive' Web 2.0. The third era is ‘connectivity not only with humans’– everyone, everything, and everywhere," it says. "Things / objects / machines will also interact with each other. They will initiate the transactions and influence each other."
Devices that will interact in this fashion will include computers, people, actuators, refrigerators, sensors, books, passports, luggage, clothes, food, TVs, vehicles, mobile phones and medicines.

IDATE’s M2M Market report, covering 2013-2017, reveals that a healthy growth rate has finally taken hold in this promising but, up until recently, underperforming market.

This performance is being spurred by increased use within the main areas of application (automotive, consumer electronics and utilities) and is expected to accelerate even further over the next five years as M2M spreads to other sectors of activity.

The M2M market represented 175 million modules worldwide in 2013, generating €24.2 billion in revenue, which translates in to an annual growth rate of 31% in volume and 11% in revenue. The bulk of revenue was generated by software and IT developments which together accounted for two-thirds of total market value.

IDATE forecasts that global M2M market volume will grow by an average of close to 30% annually between now and 2017, which corresponds to 470 million modules, while market revenue will climb by 13% a year on average, to reach €40 billion.

Europe will be the biggest market in terms of revenue, ahead of North America, even if Asia-Pacific will continue to dominate in terms of volume. At the end of 2013, China rose to the number one spot in number of cellular M2M modules installed, overtaking the United States.

Over the next few years, the M2M market’s growth will be shaped by three key verticals: automotive, consumer electronics and utilities

While they will theoretically drive the market, certain barriers could nevertheless obstruct their growth. Several long-awaited applications in these key markets have been repeatedly delayed, such as Europe’s eCall regulation and large-scale rollouts by utilities. Added to which certain technical choices can have a tremendous impact on the market, a good example being smart meters connected to the cellular network through a concentrator that would allow large utility companies to further increase their already massive negotiating clout to drive down per-unit prices. But utilities will dominate the M2M market in 2017 in terms of module numbers, all technologies combined. The rise of M2M in consumer electronics will have a major impact on the market as a whole, especially on the number of active modules. Because it is a de facto mass market, consumer electronics will represent the largest number of modules, all technologies combined.

M2M players seeking business opportunity beyond their core expertise

The market offers M2M application providers with very attractive opportunities, despite the already relatively low and declining average revenue per user (ARPU). The projects have a long lifespan, very low churn rates and average contracts representing several thousand SIM cards. Connectivity alone is expected to represent €10 billion worldwide in 2017, and more than 3% of European telcos’ mobile data revenue. MVNOs are being pushed out of the market and so repositioning themselves as platform providers, while module providers will have to adapt to a market where unit prices are in free fall. Meanwhile, the top telcos are exploring new cloud and big data services that would allow them to find solid and sustainable new business opportunities.

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