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The computing and mobile consumer electronics world is decidedly more connected after 2011. More than 132 million modems were shipped worldwide in 2011 for use in personal computing (PC) and consumer electronics (CE) applications, according to ABI Research. These modems utilize mobile broadband technologies (commonly marketed by network operators as 3G and 4G) and come in four distinct form-factors: PC cards, USB sticks, embedded modem modules and mobile hotspot routers.

 

• PC cards, which used to be the primary way to attach a modem to a laptop computer, have all but been supplanted by the convenience and ubiquity of the USB port interface. • USB modems have driven mobile broadband modem volumes since 2006 and continued to lead with more than 97 million shipped during 2011.

 

•Embedded modem modules experienced the largest year-over-year form-factor growth at 58%.  The rapid uptake of media tablets by early technology adopters has pushed the module segment forward compared to the sluggish attach rates from laptop computers.

•Mobile hotspot routers that enable multiple Wi-Fi devices to connect to a single mobile data radio are holding their own with 45% year-over-year growth in 2011.

“A handful of countries, led by Japan, saw an industry first in 2011: more mobile hotspot router shipments than USB modems,” says Jeff Orr, senior practice director at ABI Research. “We expect this trend to continue in the Asia-Pacific region and be joined by North America and Western Europe starting in 2012.”

China’s Huawei led all modem vendors in 2011 with 47% of all worldwide shipments. The company has retained its lead since 2007. Fellow China-based supplier ZTE continued to hold the number two market share for the fourth straight year at 30%.

The rise of always-connected mobile computing and CE devices was reinforced with module vendors Apple (iPad family of media tablets) and AnyDATA (Amazon Kindle e-reader) holding the number three and four rankings, respectively. The mobile broadband modem market remains poised for continued success through 2017 with a forecasted CAGR of 15%.

----ABI Research

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