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Lukewarm 2015 for WLAN market

The global WLAN market saw some positive growth in the fourth quarter of 2015, in what was a lukewarm year for the sector. 

The latest figures from IDC reveal the combined consumer and enterprise wireless local area network market increased 1.4% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2015 (4Q15), while declining -0.3% for the full year 2015. 

The figures show enterprise WLAN revenues declined for Cisco, with Aruba-HP Enterprise performing just below the market for the fourth quarter. The quarter proved strong for Ruckus and Aerohive.

For the quarter, Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) was the strongest region for the market.

According to IDC, the enterprise segment grew 5.9% year over year in 4Q15, experiencing its best growth quarter of the year, an improvement from the sub-5% growth of the previous three quarters. 

While 4Q15 represented an improvement, the market grew at a tepid 3.7% for the full year, less than half of what the market experienced in 2014, IDC says. 

The analyst firm says the current deceleration of the annual growth rate, as compared to previous years, is largely due to the confluence of two factors: a hold on new WLAN projects due to the uncertain short-term trajectory of the global economy and market anticipation of the full availability of Wave 2 802.11ac products.

"While weaker compared to what was seen prior to 2015, the growth experienced in 4Q15 was higher than that of the previous three quarters," explains Nolan Greene, research analyst, Network Infrastructure at IDC.

"Expected fourth quarter refresh cycles were certainly at play here across the world, with organisations preparing for greater digital transformation initiatives in 2016."

The market once again saw its strongest growth rates in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), which saw 14.8% year-over-year growth in 4Q15 and 11.3% for the full year 2015. 

"Due to differing market forces on the local levels, regional performance in enterprise WLAN varied significantly in 2015, especially in the fourth quarter," explains Petr Jirovsky, research manager, Worldwide Networking Trackers.

"APeJ continues to see good growth for digital initiatives, whereas the EMEA market felt a surge of confidence in 4Q15. North America was surprisingly flat, with E-Rate uplift not able to fully offset economic uneasiness,” he says.

Key Enterprise WLAN Vendor Highlights:

  • Cisco's 4Q15 worldwide enterprise WLAN revenue declined -0.7% year over year in 4Q15, and grew 2.0% for the full 2015. Cisco's worldwide market share came in at 45.0% in 4Q15, down from the 48.1% seen in 4Q14, and from 48.0% in 3Q15. For the full year 2015, Cisco's market share came in at 47.0%, down from 47.8% in 2014. IDC believes that the Meraki cloud-managed WLAN portfolio remains one of the primary growth drivers for Cisco.
  • Aruba-HP Enterprise (combining HP Enterprise and Aruba but excluding its OEM business) performed just below the overall market in 4Q15 and grew 5.5% year over year and 8.6% for the full year 2015. Aruba-HPE's market share stands at 15.9% in 4Q15, down from 17.4% in 3Q15. For the full year 2015, Aruba-HPE recorded 16.9% market share, compared to 16.2% in 2014.
  • Ruckus had another strong quarter in 4Q15, once again growing 16% year over year (although only up 0.5% quarter over quarter). For the full year 2015, Ruckus outperformed the market, growing 13.1% over 2014. Ruckus accounted for 6.7% of the overall market in 4Q15, up from 6.1% in 4Q14. For the full 2015, Ruckus' market share came in at 6.9%, compared to 6.3% in 2014.
  • Aerohive grew 26.7% year over year in 4Q15 and 11.0% quarter over quarter, once again benefitting from its relatively strong position in the K-12 education vertical, which resulted in increased business from E-Rate spending in United States. For the full year 2015, Aerohive grew 4.2% over 2014, and finished with 2.1% market share.

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