Market research specialist ABI Research reports that sales of cellular modems remained hot for 2008, with more than 35 million cellular modems making it to market last year. The majority were external Universal Serial Bus (USB) modems ideal for use for wireless access with notebook or laptop computers.
Sales of embedded cellular modems (built into computers) were also strong, with 3.5 million cellular modems sold in that form. According to ABI Research Principal Analyst Philip Solis, "After years of slow growth, the embedded cellular modem market is starting to show signs of life, increasing volumes and exceeding expectations. ABI Research expects that, building on a good showing of 3.5 million units in 2008, shipments of embedded modems will more than double in 2009." He does caution that the research firm expects growth to slow in 2009 due to economic conditions: "ABI Research has lowered its overall forecasts for the cellular modem market for 2009. However, shipment rates will continue to grow, albeit at a slower place, because this is an underpenetrated market and because of subsidies and other incentives offered by mobile operators." The report, "Cellular PC Card Market Data," provides market data for four different form factors of cellular modems: PCMCIA cards, USB modems, internal modems, and 3G/Wi-Fi routers.