You can never really have enough USB ports, and this is especially true if you own a laptop, most of which are decked out with just three or four of them. By the time you plug in an external mouse, keyboard, and laptop cooler, you're either out of USB ports or down to one. Be that as it may, USB modems continue to outsell embedded modules by a wide margin, a research company says.
According to ABI Research, the disparity between USB modems and embedded wireless modules in laptops is 3:1. We would have expected that ratio to be in reverse, but as far as ABI's crystal ball is concerned, embedded module shipments won't exceed USB modem shipments for another five years.
"Media tablets had a significant positive impact on embedded module shipments last year, with Apple coming out as the new leader for 3G modules," notes ABI Research senior practice director Jeff Orr. "But embedded modules will likely falter this year as the tablet vendors look to drive prices down by foregoing add-ons including 3G/4G modems."
By 2016, ABI Research says there will nearly as many embedded Wi-Fi modules as there will be USB Wi-Fi dongles, with the ratio to be reduced to 1.2:1. What's the hold up?
ABI didn't say, though we suspect it has to do with rapidly evolving technology. Because embedded modules can't be swapped out, notebook users are stuck with whatever technology comes baked in, but newer, faster, and more secure standards continue to come out through a laptop's lifetime. This could be a reason why USB modems continue to fly off store shelves.