Mobile broadband modems are losing their appeal with consumers

Shipments are expected to decline by 24 percent year on year

The Buzzard 2 is a 4G WiFi in-car device from U.K. operator EE.

The Buzzard 2 is a 4G WiFi in-car device from U.K. operator EE.

If you're using a smartphone as a hotspot, you aren't alone - sales of USB sticks and embedded PC modems are plummeting as a result of that use.

Shipments of these products are expected to decline by 24 per cent by year end, following a 17 per cent drop last year, according to market research company Strategy Analytics, which added that the value of the market has halved since 2010.

Using a smartphone to share an Internet connection is more convenient than having to carry around another device. The drawback is that it drains the battery. The best solution is to whenever possible have the smartphone plugged in while using it as a hotspot.

Modems are just one example in a long line of product categories that have been negatively affected by the growing popularity and functionality of smartphones. Cameras, handheld navigators and portable game consoles have also seen their fortunes wane as smartphones have taken over 70 per cent of total mobile phone shipments.

That smartphones now have an integrated hotspot isn't the only reason sales of modems are suffering. The decline of the PC market has had an adverse effect on shipments, according to Strategy Analytics. The growing screen sizes of smartphones have also made them a better device for accessing the Internet

But all of this doesn't mean that the market is dead. Thanks to the continued growth in Wi-Fi-enabled consumer electronics devices, routers with integrated mobile modems are a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy market, Strategy Analytics said.

Car makers are increasingly looking to integrate routers in their vehicles, for example. Mobile operators also want a piece of the market -- earlier this month U.K. operator EE launched the Buzzard 2, which plugs directly into a car dashboard's 12-volt connection.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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