Chinese bike-sharing helps world’s cellular IoT user base grow 70% to 1.2 billion

14 May 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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There were 1.2 billion cellular internet of things (IoT) connections at the end of 2018 and there will  be 9 billion by 2023, says Berg Insight.

China was the main contributor to growth in 2018, says the Swedish IoT market research company: the country now accounts for 63% of the worldwide user base – and bike sharing is one of the main drivers.

“China is deploying cellular IoT technology at a monumental scale,” said Tobias Ryberg, principal analyst at Berg Insight and author of the report.

“According to data from the Chinese mobile operators, the installed base in the country grew by 124% year-on-year to reach 767 million at the end of 2018.”

The world market grew 70% during 2018, says the report, and Berg believes there will be 9.0 billion IoT devices connected to cellular networks worldwide in 2023.

The report notes that Chinese government “is actively driving adoption as a tool for achieving domestic and economic policy goals at the same time as the private sector implements IoT technology to improve efficiency and drive innovation”.

Ryberg said of China: “The country has now surpassed Europe and North America in terms of penetration rate with 54.7 IoT connections per 100 inhabitants.”

Berg Insight said it believes that the role of the government is the main explanation for why China is ahead of the rest of the world in the adoption of IoT.

It is not just widespread adoption of connected cars, fleet management, smart metering, asset monitoring and other traditional applications for cellular IoT, but also new consumer services such as bike sharing.

Average monthly revenue in China is low, though – only € 0.22, compared to € 0.70 in Europe. Global revenues from cellular IoT connectivity services increased by 19% in 2018 to reach € 6.7 billion. The ten largest players had a combined revenue share of around 80%, said Berg.