More than 35 million cellular modems used to connect laptops and
netbooks to the Internet of the
devices hit the market in 2008 according to shipment data.
The majority were the
external USB modems that mobile operators have been pushing for some
time. Growth has been bolstered by mobile operators who
bundled USB modems with netbooks in subsidized price plans.
A further 3.5 million were embedded modems, built into the computers.
According to ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis, "After years
of slow growth, the embedded cellular modem market is starting to show
signs of life, increasing volumes and exceeding expectations. ABI
Research expects that, building on a good showing of 3.5 million units
in 2008, shipments of embedded modems will more than double in 2009."
Qualcomm and Ericsson have been targeting the embedded modem market
directly, positioning their products very competitively against each
other. Operators, especially in Western Europe, are subsidizing USB
modems and offering premium data plans that include "free" netbooks or
laptops equipped with embedded modems.
Solis warns that despite the positive picture for embedded modems, the
global recession will inevitably have an impact on the market. "In light
of the prevailing economic conditions and the resulting slowdown in
laptop shipments, ABI Research has lowered its overall forecasts for the
cellular modem market for 2009. However, shipment rates will continue to
grow, albeit at a slower place, because this is an underpenetrated
market and because of subsidies and other incentives offered by mobile
PC Card Market Data" (http://www.abiresearch.com/products/market_data/Cellular_PC_Modems_Market_Data)
provides market share and shipment forecast data for cellular modems
used to supply cellular connectivity for all types of laptop computing
devices. It includes data for cellular modems' four form factors: PCMCIA
cards, USB modems, internal modems, and 3G/Wi-Fi routers.