Global M2M revenues set to almost triple by 2018

Revenues from M2M services are set to almost triple globally over the next five years, according to research firm Ovum. However, mobile operators stand to miss out on this revenue opportunity unless they strategically partner with other stakeholders in the M2M ecosystem, the research firm warned.

Global revenues from M2M services stood at $16.7bn in 2013 and are set to grow to $44.8bn by 2018. More than a third of those revenues are expected to come from the Asia-Pacific region, which is expected to generate $15bn by 2018, rising at a CAGR of 26.5 per cent between 2012 and 2018.

There were 106.4 million global M2M connections  in 2012, set to grow to 360.9 million in 2018 – a CAGR of 22.6 per cent. The Asia-Pacific region will again lead this growth along with the Middle East and Africa, yet growth is expected to be seen across all geographic regions.

Ovum identified the most important industry verticals for M2M in 2018 as healthcare, manufacturing and energy and utilities, forecasting revenues of $7.9bn, $7.1bn, and $7bn in each sector respectively during 2018.

Jeremy Green, principal analyst  for industry communications and broadband at Ovum acknowledged that the firm’s forecasts are more modest than competitors’. However, he stressed that this is not a forecast of the ‘Internet of Things’, rather of managed and paid-for connections over public mobile networks.

“For telcos there are really two opportunities: to stand back and provide the connectivity for M2M services, or to roll up their sleeves and get involved with the end to end provision of solutions,” he said.

He stressed that the M2M opportunity is much bigger for mobile operators that are willing to facilitate end to end M2M services. However, this approach involves recruiting new skills and competencies, and developing relationship with systems integrators (SI) and software developers, he added.

“If a carrier wants to play an essential part as a connectivity provider and focus just on that role, it must have healthy and robust relationships with device manufacturers and SIs,” said Green. “If a carrier sees itself as an end to end provider, its partnering relations are even more critical, because it is unlikely to be heard at the CxO level within an enterprise client unless it is working with a global SI.”

A number of tier one operators have stepped up their efforts in the M2M space in recent months. This week, US operator AT&T launched a modular connected car platform as well as partnerships with Audi and Tesla. Orange too is eyeing opportunities in the connected car space, having embarked on a research project with Renault to test uses of LTE technology in connected cars last month.

Vice president at Deutsche Telekom’s M2M competence centre Jürgen Hase revealed in November 2013, that the operator group is looking to emulate Apple’s success in the smartphone app market with its M2M offering. And trade body the GSMA last month published specifications to enable the remote over the air provision and management of embedded SIMs in M2M devices.

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