According to the latest update to ABI Research’s forecasts, cellular M2M connections continue to show steady growth, and are expected to exceed 297 million in 2015. Their 2009 forecast of about 225 million connections by 2014 has also been raised to 232.5 million. On the downside, while telematics and smart grid drive growth in Asia-Pacific, the markets outside Japan and key countries are "less mature," according to Sam Lucero, ABI's practice director.
Europe continues to account for the largest regional share of overall M2M connections with 110 million in 2015; North America will rank second with 79 million and the Asia-Pacific region third with almost 66 million.
According to Lucero, “The major world regions show different drivers for cellular M2M markets. The European market is the most diversified and has the most mature deployments. The EU benefits from regulatory mandates surrounding eCall and smart energy. In North America the focus has traditionally been more on telematics, although M2M is now growing strongly in other areas including smart energy.
Key operators providing M2M in Asia are NTT DoCoMo in Japan, Korea Telecom, and China Mobile, which recently announced that it is serving five million M2M connections. In Europe, important providers include Telefonica in Spain, Telenor (Scandinavia), Orange Business Services (part of France Telecom), and Vodafone. The four major cellular operators in North America, Verizon Wireless (which operates GM’s OnStar service), AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are all offering M2M, in addition to alternative providers such as Kore Telematics and Numerex.
Some business model and operational differences exist, too: European providers tend not only to set up distinct M2M business units, but to supply those units with their own M2M-specific infrastructure. And they’re more oriented towards providing value-added services in addition to basic M2M connectivity. North American operator M2M business units, in contrast, tend to use the operators’ main networks for M2M.