Universal Serial Bus devices, which are commonly referred to as USBs, are among the most widely used computer peripheral devices in the world. USB ports act as connecting points that allows peripheral devices like cameras, camcorders, mice, consoles, printers, scanners, and hard drives to communicate with a host such as a computer or a mobile phone. The concept of USB standardized the connection of peripherals to PCs for both information transfer and power and is now found on a variety of devices.
Increased demand for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs, as well as the introduction of IoT and AI applications, are the primary drivers of the global USB key industry. The increased adoption of these devices, as well as technological advancements, has resulted in an increase in data traffic and a huge demand for data storage. As a result, there is a greater demand for compact, efficient USB devices with higher storage capacity. A USB flash drive, also known as a key, is a portable USB electronic data storage device that is quickly becoming a popular tool for storing and sharing digital data. U3 flash keys may come empty or with preloaded software to assist users in copying and safeguarding data. It has a storage capacity ranging from 128 kilobytes (KB) to 128 gigabytes (GB) and can be used to store music and audio, as well as digital documents, photos, and software. Another factor driving the global USB key market is the growing number of Internet users, which results in increased vulnerabilities. Businesses and individuals are using USB key technology to improve and protect their data and privacy. According to usbcafe.com, data stored on a USB device can still be recovered even after formatting the device, and the industry is currently focused on overcoming these privacy concerns by enhancing the storage security functions of these devices. When a USB key is inserted into an electronic device, it acts as a control panel, contributing to the security of the access points by preventing unauthorized users from accessing the data stored on them. USB key technology has several advantages, making it one of the most widely used technologies in the world as well as the primary factor driving the growth of the USB devices market.
Although USB media such as hard drives and flash drives make things easier for users, they can compromise security. The easy accessibility and portable nature make them vulnerable to data leakage, theft, and loss. Most users routinely transfer sensitive data to a USB drive without encryption. Further, compromised USB drives can have an impact on corporate networks by inadvertently introducing malware. Therefore, it is essential for maintaining a secure network to control access to portable devices, removable media, and USB storage. Given the need, data privacy legislation and standards, such as advanced encryption standards (AES), are driving the demand for encrypted USB keys. USB flash drives, also known as thumb drives, include a switch that enables write protection, making it impossible to modify or delete existing data or add new files to the device. Some USB flash drives include additional features such as encryption, which requires the user to enter a password to prevent unauthorized access to data on the device.
Because of the presence of key industry players, North America currently holds the largest share of the global USB key market. Europe’s strict data privacy regulations and the tremendous growth of the IT sector are making Europe’s presence felt in the USB market as well. Europe anticipates being a driving force in the deployment of secure flash memory devices. The Asia-Pacific region experiences an increased adoption of smartphones and cameras propelling the market forward. In addition, the Android and iOS operating system segments have captured significant market share in the global USB key market. The transition to USB Type-C (USB-C) connections, which offer enhanced capabilities and performance, is growing in demand to meet future connectivity demands across all industries. The type A connector segment currently holds the largest market share but the adoption of USB-C in smartphones, laptops, and cars is being driven by its ability to ensure fast charging while simultaneously transferring data and video. It offers higher power and higher data transmission facilitating a smooth connection with computer devices. The market is confident that USB Type-C connections will continue to gain popularity and adoption even if the demand for conventional USB technology fades.
According to Research and Markets, the global USB device market was valued at $35.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $65.8 billion by 2028, growing at a 9.3% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2021 and 2028.
Exhibit 1: Global USB Devices Market
Challenges Facing The Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic and its ongoing impact have been a major challenge for every industry over the last two years. Because of lockdown measures, semiconductor businesses suffered as production ceased while demand soared. A new wave of digital transformation and distributed workforces has increased demand for mobile devices and laptops. USB media use transistor semiconductors to retrieve and store a user’s data. Although the semiconductor industry recovered more quickly than expected this year, it still faces significant challenges, with global semiconductor sales growth slowing significantly in the second half of the year. The market will likely recover in the second half of 2023. Furthermore, tensions between the United States and China continue to have an impact on the global supply chain, putting additional pressure on both markets. The Russia-Ukraine war also hampered global economic recovery, causing a surge in commodity prices and supply chain disruptions that impacted many markets around the world.
Furthermore, the growing number of other portable devices such as smartphones with large built-in memory poses a major growth challenge for the USB market. The demand for more DRAM in smartphones is being driven by features like AR/VR, higher resolution displays, and camera requirements. According to one study, new smartphone brands, mostly Chinese, have been the primary forces behind the trend toward advanced memory configurations in smartphones, and the average RAM capacities of these brands are significantly higher than the industry average. Further, average ROM or Flash Storage capacity in smartphones has increased noticeably along with the integration of higher RAM configurations.
Exhibit 2: Quarterly average android and iOS smartphone DRAM capacity worldwide (in GB)
Increased security concerns present another problem. The usage of USB devices soared because of their small size, wide availability, low cost, and portability but these characteristics have also attracted attackers. With new USB ports and connections, the market has access to increased speed, power, and adaptability. They also come with a complex range of capabilities and features that must be taken into account when selecting the right peripheral for different applications.