Mobile data traffic from embedded computing devices is increasing so rapidly that if current trends continue, the total number of bytes sent each month in 2014 will equal the total equivalent traffic measured in 2008, according to ABI Research.
ABI Research estimates that nearly 7,900 petabytes of data will be sent from embedded computing devices in 2014. This traffic originates from laptops, netbooks and Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) that are equipped “out of the box” with cellular or mobile broadband modems. Laptops and netbooks will account for about 90% of the traffic, with the contribution from MIDs and media tablets remaining fairly small.
Jeff Orr, senior analyst, ABI Research, said this traffic will be significant although the portion of laptops, netbooks and MIDs that are sold with embedded modems will not reach a majority by 2014. “The fact that network operators are offering modem-equipped netbooks at a subsidized price with a data service contract is an endorsement of the concept of embedded modems, as opposed to add-on USB modems,” Orr said.
Data is Evenly Dispersed
The bulk of embedded computing device data traffic comes in about equal measure from Europe, North America and parts of Asia, according to ABI Research. It is driven by the highly competitive nature of home and wireless broadband markets and the sheer number of computing devices owned by consumers in those parts of the world.
4G networks are not expected to be a major contributor to embedded computing device mobile device data traffic within the forecast period. ABI Research forecasts indicate that even in 2014, 4G will handle only a tiny fraction of the traffic; the vast bulk will be handed about equally by 3G and 2G networks.
Smartbooks Set for Rapid Growth
Smartbook devices should account for a decent share of the upcoming growth in data traffic from embedded computing devices. Smartbooks, which first appeared on the market in 2008, are set to ship 163 million units worldwide in 2015, according to earlier findings from ABI Research.
“Smartbook” is somewhat of a nebulous category, as it is not technically a product category or a brand. ABI Research defines a smartbook as low-powered device running a mobile operating system that is always connected, either via Wi-Fi or using cellular or mobile broadband. They are a subset of MIDs (mobile Internet devices) and netbooks, and address the same potential users, usage, pricing, and market needs. However, they don’t use x86 processors.
One of the biggest predicted changes to the smartbook market, beyond its explosive growth, is the increase in popularity of the MID/tablet format as compared to the clamshell format. Today, virtually all smartbooks sold are clamshell devices. However, by the end of this year, tablets should account for roughly one-third of shipment volume. Looking ahead to 2015, tablet devices will continue to account for roughly one-third of shipment volume.