IoT News – Global Cellular IoT Module Shipments Decreased 6% YoY in Q4 2020


  • the global cellular IoT modules market has continued to recover sequentially but has yet to hit 2019 levels.
  • Quectel and Qualcomm maintained their leading positions in the market shares of cellular IoT module vendors and chipset players respectively.
  • Smart meters, automotive and telematics are the top three applications of cellular IoT modules in the world in terms of shipments.

Global shipments of cellular IoT modules grew 9% QoQ but were down 6% year-on-year in Q4 2020, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Global Cellular IoT Module, Chipset and Application Tracker.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the demonstration of the cellular IoT moduled in mobility sectors but has seen increased adoption among other verticals, such as healthcare and gateways. Only Japan and South Korea saw an increase in shipments on a year-over-year basis. Total cellular IoT module shipments for 2020 completed at 265 million units. A new wave of COVID-19 and semiconductor shortages has kept the cellular IoT module market from fully recovering.

Commenting on market dynamics, research analyst Soumen Mandal said:

“Quectel continued to lead the global cellular IoT module providers in terms of shipping volumes and revenue. However, it has lost market share in successive quarters due to the rise of suppliers of longtail modules, especially in China. There was intense competition for second place between incumbent Thales, Sierra Wireless and the fast growing Fibocom.

“The negative impact of COVID-19 forced Thales to cede second place to Fibocom in the second quarter of 2020. However, Thales took it over in the third quarter of 2020, keeping it until the end of the year. Improved performance in Europe, North America and Japan enabled Thales to regain its position. Fibocom is trying to increase its global presence and improve service support to increase its share in the global cellular IoT modules market. ”

“Sierra Wireless slipped out of the ranking of the top five module suppliers with the divestiture of its automotive business to a consortium led by Fibocom Wireless to form an independent company, Rolling Wireless. Among the major module suppliers in China, only Fibocom and Meig experienced positive quarterly and annual growth in the fourth quarter of 2020 in terms of shipments. “

Figure 1: Share of Global Cellular IoT Module Shipments by Module Vendor, Q4 2020

Chart: Share of global cellular IoT module shipments by module vendor, Q4 2020

Source: Counterpoint Global Cellular IoT Module, Chipset and Application Tracker

Mandal added:
“4G LTE modules continued to dominate, contributing almost half of the global shipping volumes of cellular IoT modules. The demand for 4G Cat-1 modules is expected to increase significantly this year. Demand for NB-IoT modules remains strong, contributing to a third of cellular IoT module shipment volumes in Q4 2020. Smart meters, telematics and utilities are the main applications of NB-IoT technology. NB-IoT (Cat NB2) modules based on 3GPP Release 14 specifications, among other things, gain localization capabilities, extending the spectrum of use cases to broader mobility, tracking and telematics applications. “

“Demand for 5G IoT modules during the quarter was limited to the router / CPE market and other industrial applications. However, the majority of 5G modules launched are expected to enter mainstream production in the second half of 2021. Demand will also begin to take off with improved 5G coverage in many key markets such as China, North America and some. parts of Europe. “

Figure 2: Share of Global Cellular IoT Module Shipments by Chipset Brand, Q4 2020

Chart: Global Cellular IoT Module Shipments Share by Chipset Brand, Q4 2020

Source: Counterpoint Global Cellular IoT Module, Chipset and Application Tracker

Comment on cellular IoT module chipset supplier landscape, Vice President Research Neil Shah noted:
“Qualcomm further increased its share of the global cellular chipset market to nearly half in the fourth quarter of 2020, driven by growing demand for 4G and LPWA modules. As major Chinese module vendors seek to expand their presence beyond China, Qualcomm and other vendors such as Sony (Altair Semi) and Sequans appear to be the main beneficiaries going forward. HiSilicon was the premier supplier of NB-IoT technology. He plans to continue leading over the next few quarters despite US sanctions. However, with increasing competition and design gains, UNISOC and MediaTek are eager to increase their market share, especially in the NB-IoT segment away from HiSilicon. With the arrival of new vendors in the cellular IoT chipset market, such as AutoTalks, ASR and Eigencomm, alongside the vertically integrated u-blox, Nordic Semi will ignite some competition, especially in the booming LPWA segment. growth.

Shah added:
“NB-IoT module ASP (average selling price) continues to decline (3% year-on-year) with magnitude in Q4 2020, driving the adoption of NB-IoT technology. Modules under $ 5 contributed almost a third of shipments this quarter. The ASP of another fast growing segment, 4G LTE Cat 1 modules, decreased 9% year-on-year in Q4 2020 and is an emerging choice to replace many existing and future M2M 2.5G / 3G applications. ”

Currently, Counterpoint tracks and forecasts shipments of over 40 IoT module vendors, revenue performance on over 10 chipset players, and over 18 IoT applications in 10 major geographies on a quarterly basis, with a forecast until 2025. Full reports are available for subscription. customers via the following links:

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