Wireless 802.15.4-enabled device shipments are expected to increase more than 5x, at a constant annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% between 2012 and 2018. Shipments of ZigBee-enabled devices will continue to be the primary driver, accounting for nearly 80% of 2018’s total, according to a new report from ABI Research.

“It’s been quite a turbulent time for ZigBee over the last couple of years,” ABI practice director Peter Cooney was quoted in a press release. “Markets that seemed to be sure-fire bets for rapid growth, such as smart meters have not delivered what was expected, while smart home markets continue to flourish.”

The ZigBee Alliance has zoomed in on and developed standards for specific 802.15.4 market segments. Most of the industry association’s efforts and success to date have been on ZigBee Energy for smart meter applications and ZigBee RF4CE Control for home entertainment, according to ABI.

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Previous estimates forecast strong ZigBee growth and adoption in the smart meter market, with ZigBee seen as “the primary connection technology globally.” Though that has come to pass in the U.S., adoption and roll outs elsewhere have been “sporadic and it doesn’t seem likely that ZigBee will see mass adoption worldwide,” according to ABI’s “802.15.4 Protocols, Will ZigBee be King?” report.

In contrast, home entertainment has grown to be the largest market for ZigBee, “largely for RF4CE in remote controls and consumer equipment.” ABI expects that will continue to be the case, though ZigBee RF4CE will face growing competition from Bluetooth Smart in the near term and Wi-Fi over the longer term.

“All in all, 802.15.4, and especially ZigBee, continues to be a strong contender for the wireless connectivity technology of choice in many markets; mesh-networking topology, ultra low power, and low-cost being the major drivers for adoption,” Cooney added.

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