This report examines the technologies, standards, applications, players and
anticipated market growth for mid-range wireless networks. We also examine
the factors that have contributed to WLANs success and future considerations
for this segment of the Internet of Things (IoT).
The WLAN market is characterized by its relatively calm atmosphere and in
stark contrast to the WPAN market, this cohesion has helped to drive
innovation and dominance. Based on our analysis, Harbor predicts 802.11
enabled technology will grow from 1.4 billion shipments in 2012 to over 3.6
billion shipments by 2016. A few factors will contribute to this growth, but
the innovative capacity and efforts of the IEEE 802.11 subcommittees b, g, n,
and ac have helped to ensure the functionality and applicability of 802.11
technologies are consistently expanded.
Key related points from the analysis include:
- Internet Protocol directly to the device has become an integral element in
advanced M2M connectivity and thanks in part to the rapid growth of
smartphones and tablets and the more advanced IoT solutions that require
streaming or large file transfers, IP will continue to define success and
growth for the WLAN market
- Architects of 802.11 standard understood how a 'generalist' approach can
help ensure stable market share - this has freed them up to expand the
functionality of 802.11 technology, with 802.11s Mesh WiFi, for instance;
certain companies can learn from their success
- Being backwards-compatible has greatly expanded the breadth of 802.11 and
given investors and end-users comfort to know that the technology they choose
to pursue will not be obsolete in the near future
- WLAN is currently actively encroaching on WPAN technologies; without
increased interoperability, WLAN technology will ultimately win-out and
relegate WPAN technologies to niche applications
- IEEE standards committees and the WiFi Alliance are currently repeating
the benefits from the decisions they made years ago. The increased clarity,
trust and innovative capacity these activities has allowed WiFi to , but at
the 'edge' of WiFi's applications comes interesting overlaps that are wholly
unique for the Internet of Things.
Our analysis and research is focused on understanding the strategic market
development implications within the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) arena as
they relate to WLAN networks, including:
- What are the significant challenges users, product OEMs, service providers
and silicon players face in this arena?
- How many WLAN enabled devices will there be in each market segment using
which technologies? How have advancements in the technology expanded
applicable use-cases for WLAN technology?
- Who are the key players in the WLAN marketplace and how are they
positioned to engage in this enormous opportunity?
- Will the WPAN sector, which holds so much promised expansion opportunity,
open up to WLAN technologies?
- What are the issues facing incumbent WLAN players? What strategies can
these players employ to ensure success?