u-blox Makes a Strong Comeback in 2021; Modules Contribute Most of Revenue

u-blox, a global leader in wireless and positioning technologies, has announced its 2021 financial results. The company made a strong rebound after the strong decline in 2020. Revenue reached a record $453.1 million in 2021, an increase of 27.6% from the previous year.

  • u-blox achieved strong growth across all segments in 2021. The automotive segment grew 41% YoY due to higher demand for navigation and infotainment applications, especially for electric vehicles. The industrial and consumer segments grew 24% and 51% from 2020, respectively.
  • In 2021, the revenue from Americas increased 37.6% YoY driven by strong demand for navigation, infotainment and industrial automation solutions after the decline in 2020. The strong recovery in the automotive sector and consumer telematics helped EMEA revenue to increase by 30.1%. APAC revenue increased by only 11.8% as China’s revenue remained flat due to COVID-19 and supply chain shortages. However, strong demand for industrial automation, navigation and automated driving helped Japan and South Korea in the APAC region to register significant growth. Recently, u-blox’s LTE-M modules got certified by KDDI in Japan and LGU+ in South Korea, which also pushed growth.

This year, 81% and 18% of the total revenue came from modules and GNSS chips respectively. u-blox made many design wins for its IoT modules which helped its IoT module business to witness continuous growth.

u-blox 2021 financial performance CounterpointGNSS module market

u-blox is one of the top players in the GNSS module market. The company shipped nearly 25.3 million units of its GNSS module in 2021. The GNSS module revenue is contributing more than half of the total module revenue. u-blox’s GNSS modules are used a lot in automotive applications.

Some GNSS module design wins for u-blox in 2021:

  • Xpeng Motors selected u-blox’s F9 high-precision GNSS technology for smart electric vehicles.

Wi-Fi/BT module market

In 2021, u-blox shipped nearly . Most of the u-blox Wi-Fi/BT modules are used in industrial and healthcare applications.

Some Wi-Fi/BT module design wins for u-blox in 2021:

  • Bluetooth module NINA-B406 used for smart lighting with Douglas Lighting.
  • u-blox’s ANNA-B112 Bluetooth 5 sip used for a headset for chronic pain treatment with EXSURGO.
  • u-blox’s NINA-B306 standalone Bluetooth 5 low-energy module used by (greenTEG) CORE to communicate wirelessly.

 Cellular IoT module market

According to Counterpoint Research, u-blox’s cellular IoT module segment grew 12% YoY to reach $125 million in 2021. u-blox accounted for 2% of the global cellular IoT module market while Quectel, Telit and Thales remained the top three vendors in 2021 in terms of revenue.

The cellular IoT module market remains highly competitive and u-blox has played to its strength while prioritizing GNSS and BT/Wi-Fi module business segments over cellular IoT modules.

u-blox launched 4G Cat 1 module LARA-R6 and 4G Cat 1 bis module LENA-R8 in 2022 to strengthen its cellular IoT module portfolio. With LARA-R6, u-blox wants to target North America, EMEA, APAC, Japan and LATAM markets with applications like telematics, smart meters, point of sales, asset tracking, healthcare and smoke detector. With LENA-R8, it will target EMEA, APAC and LATAM with telematics and asset tracking applications. u-blox is the third player among international (outside China) module players after Sequans and Thales to launch a Cat 1 bis module. We expect these modules to help u-blox regain its share in the cellular IoT module market.

Some cellular IoT module design wins for u-blox in 2021:

  • Modmo, an e-bike sharing company, used u-blox’s 4G cat 1 module LARA-R211 to provide connectivity in its e-bikes.
  • Digital Matter preferred u-blox’s 2G module SARA-G350 for its asset tracking device.

GNSS chip market

u-blox shipped nearly 47 million GNSS chips in 2021, which contributed $82 million to the total revenue. Besides using its GNSS chipset in its module, u-blox also provides it to other GNSS module vendors like Navisys and YIC.

Some GNSS chip design wins for u-blox in 2021:

  • iGPSPORT used the u-blox M10 platform to deliver ultra-long performance for the latest cycling computer.

Market outlook

We expect u-blox revenue to continue to grow more than 20% YoY in 2022 supported by increasing demand from the automotive and navigation segments across all regions. u-blox is on a mission to build its ecosystem with its ‘silicon to cloud’ journey. It wants to use its chipset in its module and connect its module to its cloud platform. u-blox acquired Thingstream, an IoT service platform, in 2020 to provide data and security services to its customers. Further, it took full ownership of Sapcorda, a GNSS augmentation service provider for centimeter-level positioning accuracy, in 2021. These strategic investments are also expected to help u-blox in increasing both product and service revenues, especially in the GNSS segment.

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