Growing technological and network maturity opens the door to new addressable markets
Asset tracking is one of the highest growth application segments for the Internet of Things (IoT). According to a new report by global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research, asset tracking device shipments will see a 51% year-on-year device shipment growth rate through 2024. Expanding LPWAN coverage, technological maturity, and the associated miniaturization of sophisticated devices are key to moving asset tracking from traditionally high-value markets to low-value high-volume markets, which will account for most of the tracker connection and shipment numbers.
“Hardware devices for the asset tracking market are primarily dominated by the need to balance power consumption, form factor, and device cost. Balance and compromise between these three must be achieved based on the use-case and are dictated by the business case and possible return on investment for the customer,” said Tancred Taylor, Research Analyst at ABI Research. “As these constraints are marginalized by greater volumes of adoption, by emerging technologies like eSIM or System-on-Chip, and by increasingly low-power components and connectivity, so too will the limitations on the business case.”
Expanding technological and network foundations drive the number of use-cases, and OEMs are responding by diversifying their hardware offerings. Some OEMs such as CoreKinect, Particle, Mobilogix, or Starcom Systems are innovating in this space by taking a reference-architecture or modular approach to device design for personalized solutions. Others are going to market with off-the-shelf or vertically-focused devices for quickly scalable deployments – such as BeWhere, Roambee, Sony, or FFLY4U.
Early adoption of asset tracking was in the fleet, container, and logistics industries to provide basic data on the location and condition of assets in transit. The total addressable market for these industries remains extensive, particularly as the solutions trickle down from the largest enterprises to small- and medium-sized companies. Increased device functionality combined with component miniaturization is key to driving the next generation of low-cost tracking devices. This will enable granular tracking at the pallet, package, or item level, and open new markets and device categories, such as disposable trackers. Emerson, Sensitech, CoreKinect, and Bayer are among companies driving innovation in this field.
Innovation among product offerings is accompanied by variations in business models and go-to-market approaches. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are playing a significant role in driving adoption through increased verticalization, with Verizon, AT&T, and Orange among those offering subscription models for end-to-end solutions – comprising device, connectivity, software, and managed service offerings. This model is additionally gaining traction among OEMs, with Roambee an early adopter for a subscription-only model, and others such as Mobilogix following suit. This service-based model will gain additional traction as OEMs move down the value-chain by developing in-house capabilities or partner networks to simplify the ecosystem and consumer’s solution.
“While there is extensive work to be done on the hardware side to make low-cost trackers that can be simply attached to any ‘thing’, many OEMs are shifting from a hardware-only model to more of a consultative approach to a customer’s requirements and deliver personalized end-to-end solutions. Flexibility, simplicity, and cost are crucial to gain enterprise traction,” Taylor concluded.