Rapid migration to embedded SIM forecast for cellular M2M

Approaching 100 million embedded SIMs are forecast to be shipped for use in cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) communications in 2016.


IHS has acquired IMS ResearchApproaching 100 million embedded SIMs are forecast to be shipped for use in cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) communications in 2016. This is one of the key results from IMS Research’s (recently acquired by IHS Inc.) just published report “Smart Cards in M2M – World – 2012.

Although in the cellular handset market, the future of the embedded SIM is still very much in question and vehemently opposed by many operators, within the M2M market, embedded devices are already being shipped and volumes are ramping up.

“The longer life cycles of some M2M devices compared to handsets, and the more extreme environment tolerances required by some of these devices means that a removable SIM is a less attractive option compared to a soldered device. For this reason the impetus in this segment to develop embedded solutions and an ecosystem to support them has been widely embraced. Quite the opposite to the reaction of key cellular players to the embedded SIM for cellular handsets,” stated Alex Green, director of IMS Research’s team tracking the smart card market and one of the report’s authors.

“That being said, the migration will not be overnight. The traditional SIM card format, known as 2FF, is sold by the billion at present, providing for very low prices due to volumes of scale. Furthermore, newer smaller removable form factors such as 3FF and the more recent 4FF are also projected to take some share within this market. The fact that only five million embedded SIMs are estimated to have been shipped in 2011 illustrates the embryonic stage the market currently is at.”

However, in certain applications IMS Research projects that a rapid switch to embedded SIMs, using the MFF2 named form factor, will take place. In particular M2M applications in the automotive, smart metering, security, asset tracking and commercial transportation markets are prime targets. 

IMS Research’s report “Smart Cards in M2M – World – 2012” examines the market for smart cards across 10 key M2M application areas. For each it projects the volumes of smart cards that will be shipped for the period 2011 to 2016 and the form factors of the cards used.

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