Reports: China leads in M2M connectivity boom

Recent reports from well-known analysts in the machine-to-machine communications (M2M) sector, as well as the Chinese government, all point to one inevitable conclusion – the People’s Republic of China may already be the biggest national player in M2M, and is poised to get much bigger in a hurry. Some of the recent market highlights reported include:

*  In a report released yesterday, Berg Insight (Gothenburg, Sweden) states that M2M connections grew by 64% in 2011, to reach 34.5 million by the end of 2011. In comparison, connections grew in Europe and North America by 27% each, to reach 32.3 million and 29.3 million connections, respectively.

*  In another report released in late February, ABI Research (New York) forecasts that shipments of cellular M2M modules in produced in China will more than quadruple by 2016, to reach 13.6 million units, and make up close to 40% of modules shipped in Asia.

*  A Chinese government white paper released last year states that the M2M sector – often referred to in Asia as the Internet of Things – is a cornerstone strategic priority in its 12th National Five-Year Development Plan (2011-2015). The roadmap document makes it clear the government sees itself as a key driver of early-stage M2M development, and forecasts overall market size to be $78 billion by 2015.

“2011 was the year when M2M communication really took off in China. The number of wireless M2M subscribers in the country nearly doubled and is now estimated to exceed 20 million,” explains Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst. ”We believe that China Mobile became the world’s largest M2M connectivity provider at the end of 2011, with around 14 million subscribers. If the trend continues, the Chinese market will surpass the United States in absolute terms within two to three years”.

The government report says that key sub-sectors of M2M, including network services, software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, smart meters, and M2M data processing are still in their infancy, largely dependent on solutions from outside of the region, and expected to show CAGR of over 80%. The PRC’s import-driven sensors market topped $9 billion in 2009, and its RFID market is already third in the world, behind the US and UK, at close to $2 billion.