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Embedded modem growth trips over downturn

Posted: 23 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:modem embedded? Research ABI? laptop netbook?

Despite the positive picture for embedded modems, the global recession will inevitably have an impact on the market. More than 35 million cellular modems for laptops and netbooks shipped in 2008, 10 percent of which were embedded in the computers, according to market research firm ABI Research. The firm expects the number of embedded modems to double to 7 million units in 2009, fewer than it had previously forecast, it said.

"After years of slow growth, the embedded cellular modem market is starting to show signs of life, increasing volumes and exceeding expectations," said ABI principal analyst Philip Solis, in a statement.

Solis said, 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," Solis said. "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 operators."

Most of the cellular modems shipped in 2008 were external USB modems, which mobile operators have been pushing for some time, according to ABI's analysis of shipment data, the firm said. Continued growth has been bolstered as mobile operators have bundled USB modems with netbooks in attractively subsidized price plans, ABI said.

Qualcomm and Ericsson have been targeting the embedded modem market directly, positioning their products very competitively against each other, according to ABI. Ericsson has scored some penetration with its embedded Mobile Broadband Module, while Qualcomm has also racked up design wins with its Gobi product line.

Operators, especially in Western Europe, are subsidizing USB modems and offering premium data plans that include "free" netbooks or laptops equipped with embedded modems, ABI said.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times





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