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Oct. 5, 2012: Wireless Sensor Network Market Forecast to Exceed 80 Million Units Shipped in 2012

LONDON — The wireless sensor network market, led by ZigBee, grew ten-fold from 2007 to 2010 and exceeded 45 million annual shipments in 2011, according to ABI Research. Strong growth is expected for 2012 and beyond, said Peter Cooney, wireless connectivity practice director for the firm.

Smart metering is the largest market for ZigBee in 2012 and will continue to be the major market growth driver as global roll outs of smart meters move forward. ZigBee/RF4CE use in the home environment will also be a major growth driver.

“Until quite recently ZigBee/RF4CE has been the lead choice for interoperable low-power wireless connectivity in the home automation and home entertainment markets and one look at the ZigBee Alliance’s website shows the breadth of equipment suppliers that have developed products using the technology,” said Cooney. “However, the introduction of Bluetooth Smart is set to disrupt what could have been an almost monopoly in the low-power connectivity space.”

Proprietary wireless technology is expected to continue to dominate many markets for at least the next five years; however, the market is changing, noted ABI Research. The move from IR to RF remote controls and the increasing need for interoperability between “hub” devices and sensor “nodes” are two main factors driving growth for standards based low-power connectivity such as ZigBee/RF4CE and Bluetooth Smart. There will be a battle over the coming years with each technology finding its own niches. In the longer term, low-power Wi-Fi could also be a major competitor.

Competition from other technologies will have a major effect on ZigBee/RF4CE growth in the coming years, but the ability to have almost unlimited node counts within a ZigBee system will help drive growth where other technologies compete (e.g., large building automation systems). So, while previously robust industry forecasts might not be met, ZigBee/RF4CE still has room to grow.

Publication date: 10/1/2012

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