informa
/
2 MIN READ
Commentary

USB Cellular Modems to Replace PC Cards?

ABI Research says cellular data modems that attach to computers via USB, rather than PC Cards or ExpressCards, may be the wave of the future. As a user of a laptop without an ExpressCard or PC Card slot, a USB modem became my only choice. You know what? It works just fine.
ABI Research says cellular data modems that attach to computers via USB, rather than PC Cards or ExpressCards, may be the wave of the future. As a user of a laptop without an ExpressCard or PC Card slot, a USB modem became my only choice. You know what? It works just fine.ABI conducted a study on the wireless modem market and forecasts shipments of USB modems to exceed 22 million units by 2012. That will represent one-third of the 68 million cellular modem market at that time. This reflects growth of 53% per year. The entire market encompasses PC Cards, ExpressCards, USB modems as well as internal integrated 3G/Wi-Fi radios.

According to principal analyst Dan Shey:


Proliferation of 3G networks is the primary driver of growth of cellular modems regardless of form factor. However, new companies are jumping into the USB modem market because the installed base of devices for USB modems includes not only laptops but also desktops. Desktop PCs are ubiquitous around the world and will continue shipping in large volumes, exceeding 140 million units per year through 2011.

I'd venture a guess that nearly 100% of PCs shipped today include USB ports. The percentage of devices that have PC Card or ExpressCard slots has to be far lower. It makes perfect sense that new entrants to the market will want to target the largest number of potential customers.

Shey continues:


There are two factors to watch which will affect the USB modem market. First, the newer companies entering this market are in the Asia-Pacific region, a territory with notoriously price-competitive companies. Second, since the USB modem attaches externally to the computer, the device has no space or shape limitations. This fact will allow modem vendors to differentiate their products based on body design and functional features, providing for interesting marketing opportunities.

I have found the USB modem I use to be a perfect solution. While integrated modems are perhaps the most optimal way to go (nothing hangs out the side of your laptop), using USB gives me ultimate flexibility to upgrade any time I want to the latest and greatest version of wireless data technology.

The one down side, of course, is that it is easily lost. I've found myself rummaging through my office on more than one occasion in search of it.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer