China Leads M2M Growth; Europe Not Far Behind

China Mobile became the world’s largest M2M connectivity provider at the end of 2011 with around 14 million subscribers. If the trend continues, the Chinese market will surpass the United States within two to three years.

People in the 21st Century love connectivity, everywhere and every time. From 2.5 billion Internet users connected in the world in 2011 (plus 6 billion cellular users), we will arrive in 2020 at 10 billion mobile connected devices according to Cisco, or 50 billion devices, according to phone maker Ericsson. Where will all this connectivity bring us?

The event M2M Forum, held in Milan annually and organized by Innovability, tries to answer this question. This year it focused on machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions strictly connected to the “cloud” and integrated with social networks and Web 2.0.

A report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, presented during the conference opening, said that the global number of mobile network connections used for wireless M2M communication increased by 37 percent in 2011, reaching 108 million. Asia-Pacific was the strongest regional market, with a 64 percent growth rate, reaching 34.5 million connections. Europe and North America grew around 27 percent each, to 32.3 million and 29.3 million connections, respectively. In the next five years, the global number of wireless M2M connections is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27.2 percent, to reach 359.3 million in 2016.

“2011 was the year in which M2M communication really took off in China. The number of wireless M2M subscribers in the country is estimated to exceed 20 million now,” said Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst of Berg Insight. “We believe that China Mobile became the world’s largest M2M connectivity provider at the end of 2011 with around 14 million subscribers. If the trend continues, the Chinese market will surpass the United States within two to three years.”

One of the sectors more involved in the IoT revolution in Europe is related to smart metering and smart grids, and focused on the “smart cities” concept. Another important area regards the remote control of “green energy” plants and public utilities.

Eurotech has developed its EDC-Everyware Device Cloud solution, including all the building blocks needed to develop M2M value added solutions, from the device to the data acquisition platform. One of these building blocks is called Everyware Software Framework, which reportedly makes it easy to write software on embedded devices. “Our goal was to link the IT world with the embedded one as M2M solutions require both these competences, but it is always difficult for OEMs or system integrators to have both of them,” said Tiziano Modotti, corporate product marketing manager of Eurotech Group.

>> Click here to find coverage on the 2012 Automation Conference.

Ilaria De Poli, ilaria.depoli@fieramilanoeditore.it, is an editor at “Fiera Milano Editore,” a magazine covering automation and manufacturing in Italy.

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