The combined consumer and enterprise worldwide wireless local area network (WLAN) market segments increased 7.0 per cent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14).
According to the results published in the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly WLAN Tracker, the enterprise segment continued to grow at a steady rate and increased another 7.4 per cent over the same period last year.
After an uptick in year-over-year growth in 3Q14 (9.4 per cent), the enterprise WLAN market growth rate resumed a pattern of incremental growth rate decreases.
For the full year 2014, the enterprise WLAN market grew 8.5 per cent year over year, significantly lower than the gains seen in the last few years.
The 802.11ac standard continues to see adoption at a breakneck pace in the enterprise segment.
After six full quarters of product availability, the 802.11ac standard already accounts for just over 30 per cent of dependent access point shipments and 44 per cent of dependent access point revenues, representing a noticeably faster adoption rate than the 802.11a/b/g to 802.11n transition several years ago.
Some of the reasons behind this trend include increasingly complete indoor and outdoor 802.11ac portfolios, competitive pricing relative to 802.11n access points, and the higher throughput of 802.11ac that helps meet the demands of what IDC calls the 3rd Platform of IT, built on cloud, mobility, big data, and social business technologies.
The consumer WLAN market increased 6.5 per cent year over year in 4Q14, representing a slight increase from the 5.6 per cent year-over-year growth seen in 3Q14.
Meanwhile, the ongoing transition from the older 802.11n standard to the newer and faster 802.11ac standard continues to drive growth across all geographies.
Worldwide consumer 802.11ac WLAN revenues grew 155.6 per cent year over year, with shipments increasing 206.6 per cent.
Consumer 802.11ac equipment revenues grew at 100 per cent or more in most regions, performing especially well in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) and Latin America regions, with 479.2 per cent and 344.2 per cent year-over-year growth respectively.
"Where appropriate, enterprises worldwide are seeking to move mission-critical functions from the wired network to wireless," says Rohit Mehra, Vice President, Network Infrastructure, IDC.
"These organisations are migrating to 802.11ac in order to experience wire-like speeds that enable a more nimble, mobile enterprise.
“As the 802.11ac ecosystem grows even more robust, expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.”
From a geographic perspective, the Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ) enterprise WLAN market increased 3.0 per cent on an annual basis in 4Q14.
On the other hand, the enterprise WLAN market experienced weakness in Japan, which declined -16.6 per cent in 4Q14.
"With the exception of Japan, the fourth quarter saw even growth across the regions compared to previous quarters,” adds Petr Jirovsky, Research Manager, Worldwide Networking Trackers, IDC.
“As 802.11ac adoption rises, especially with wave 2 on the horizon, the WLAN market should see sustained and steady growth across the regions over the next few years.”
According to IDC, Cisco's 4Q14 worldwide enterprise WLAN revenue was in sync with the overall market, growing 7.5 per cent year over year and 2.1 per cent quarter over quarter.
Consequently, Cisco's worldwide market share held relatively steady at 48.4 per cent in 4Q14, up from the 48.3 per cent seen in both 3Q14 and 4Q13 with IDC believing that growth in the Meraki Cloud-managed WLAN portfolio will remain a key driver of continued growth.
Aruba (excluding its OEM business) had a very strong quarter in 4Q14 and increased 29.0 per cent year over year and 4.5 per cent sequentially.
Burgeoning demand for both 802.11ac and Aruba Instant access points continues to drive positive results for Aruba. Aruba's market share increased to 11.8 per cent, up slightly from 11.5 per cent in 3Q14 and from the 9.8 percent market share Aruba held in 4Q13.
Ruckus had a fairly strong quarter, outperforming the overall enterprise WLAN market after growing 15.7 percent year over year and 0.5 per cent quarter over quarter in 4Q14. Ruckus currently accounts for 6.2 per cent of the overall market, up from 5.7 per cent in 4Q13.
Meanwhile, HP Networking continues to struggle as it declined -15.1 per cent year over year and 7.6 per cent sequentially. As a result, HP's market share stands at 4.3 per cent compared to 5.4 per cent for 4Q13.