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  Date: 19/09/2012

Strong wireless sensor network market, Zigbee leading: ABI Research

The wireless sensor network market has grown ten-fold from 2007 to 2010 and has surpassed 45 million annual shipments in 2011. The market is to exceed 80 million units shipped in 2012. ZigBee leads the market in spite of growing competition from other technologies, according to ABI Research.

According to Peter Cooney, wireless connectivity practice director, “Strong growth is expected for 2012 and beyond as ZigBee pervades the home automation and home entertainment markets, whilst Smart Meters continue to be rolled out across the globe”.

“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,” added Cooney, “however the introduction of Bluetooth Smart is set to disrupt what could have been an almost monopoly in the low power connectivity space.”

Other findings reported by ABI:
ZigBee’s largest market is smart metering in 2012 and it continues to be the key market growth driver as global roll outs of smart meters continue apace. ZigBee/RF4CE use in the home environment could also be a major growth driver. Home automation and home entertainment together are predicted to grow to over $300 million per annum by 2017.

Proprietary wireless technology is likely to continue to dominate many markets for at least the next five years, however the market is changing. 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. However, hard competition is not ruled out over the coming years with each technology finding its own niches. Low-power Wi-Fi could also join the competition in the longer term.

Competition from other technologies to have a major effect on ZigBee/RF4CE growth in the coming years, however the ability to have almost unlimited node counts within a ZigBee system helps drive growth where other technologies compete (e.g. large building automation systems). So, while previously robust industry predictions might not be met, Zigbee/RF4CE still has a lot of room to grow.
Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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