Global shipments of cellular IoT modules experienced their first-ever annual decline in 2023, falling two percent year-over-year.

Counterpoint Research’s latest report cites inventory adjustments following supply chain disruptions and reduced demand in key verticals like industrial and enterprise as driving factors behind the decline.

One bright spot was the rapid growth of 4G Cat 1 bis modules, which captured over 22 percent of shipments in 2023. In China, this technology has become the primary cellular standard for point-of-sale systems, smart metres, telematics, and asset tracking due to its affordability and energy efficiency. The market is slowly transitioning away from 4G Cat 1 and NB-IoT towards the more efficient 4G Cat 1 bis.

“India and China have shown positive growth due to increasing demand in the smart metre, POS, and asset tracking markets. Conversely, the rest of the world witnessed a sharper decline, indicating a lack of expected market momentum,” said Mohit Agrawal, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research.

Agrawal noted that around 12 percent of modules shipped in 2023 were equipped with AI capabilities—gaining popularity in automotive, router/CPE, and PC markets to manage escalating data loads.

Market leader Quectel experienced a decline in market share primarily due to weakened non-China demand. However, the company partnered with Syrma SGS to manufacture IoT modules in India. China Mobile and Fibocom saw double-digit year-over-year growth in smart metre, asset tracking, POS, and telematics applications.

The merger of Telit and Thales propelled the newly combined Telit Cinterion into the top five vendors. Telit also partnered with VVDN for local production in India. Several Chinese brands like Unionman, OpenLuat, Lierda, and Neoway showed significant growth in niche markets.

Looking ahead, Counterpoint Research Analyst Anish Khajuria expects the IoT module market to return to growth in the second half of 2024 as inventories normalise and demand increases for smart metres, POS, and automotive applications.

Substantial growth is projected for 2025 with wider 5G and 5G RedCap adoption across multiple verticals.

(Photo by kaleb tapp)

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Tags: 4g, 5g, cellular, connectivity, internet of things, IoT, modules, redcap, report, research, study