Talk about your delayed reaction. Carl Henning, who writes The Profiblog, has no doubt been perplexed by my failure (or more to the point, of either ODVA’s or Rockwell Automation’s) to respond to his March  15 post about relative market shares of Profinet and EtherNet/IP.

Actually, I was busy trying to validate the information. Carl pointed to a press release from Profibus International that in turn refers to a study from UK-based research firm IMS Research that shows the relative market shares within industrial Ethernet protocols as EtherNet/IP at 30 percent, Profinet at 28 percent, Modbus TCP at 22 percent, Ethernet Powerlink at 11 percent and EtherCat at 4 percent.

I had a conversation with ODVA who could not confirm the numbers in the report. Rockwell Automation has the report, but it does not have approval from IMS to release information. IMS pointed me to a report of its press release in the online Industrial Ethernet Book.  Then I found its press release here although it contains very little detail.

So, here goes a bit of an analysis. First, standard Ethernet TCP/IP has about 60 percent of the manufacturing market. Some might think that this is because of corporate connectivity, but several companies–notably National Instruments and Opto 22–have been proponents of standard Ethernet for years. So the specifically industrial protocols are dividing the remaining 40 percent.

Next, IMS said that Profinet was growing at 8.7 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) while EtherNet/IP was at 7.1 percent CAGR, and Modbus TCP was very slightly declining. By projecting these figures, Profinet looks to overtake EtherNet/IP within five years as the market share leader. If I were in the Profinet camp, I’d tout those numbers, too. But if I were an investor or outside observer, I’d take all projections with a large piece of the proverbial grain of salt.

New shipments of industrial Ethernet nodes declined in 2009 relative to 2008, but IMS expects 2010 numbers to grow back to 2008 numbers with 10 percent CAGR beginning in 2011.

This is the first that I’ve seen any kind of independent numbers (although I really don’t know the methodology of IMS–it could have just taken the word of the various industry organizations), and I’m frankly surprised that Profinet is that close to EtherNet/IP. Not because of any technical or marketing deficiency. More because of Profibus market penetration vis-a-vis DeviceNet.

The real takeaway? Just as I’ve been preaching for more than seven years–Ethernet is the industrial network of the future. And the future is just about here.

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