Wi-Fi set to boost market for mobile CE devices: ABI

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By  Published  October 31, 2006

INCREASED DEMAND for new mobility solutions will see sales of Wi-Fi enabled consumer electronics devices grow to 249 million by 2011, up from 40 million this year, according to market analyst ABI Research. The portable gaming market is driving the current increase in demand, with consoles from both Nintendo and Sony equipped with Wi-Fi for multiplayer and online gaming.

The report predicts that the arrival of Microsoft’s new Zune music player will signal the start of a largescale shift towards the inclusion of Wi-Fi in portable media devices.

Camera vendors Nikon, Kodak and Canon have already begun including Wi-Fi capabilities in their respective camera ranges, while gaming console, DVD player and home audio manufacturers are expected to increase the availability of Wi-Fi in their product ranges.

“From the enormous interest in online gaming to the rapid emergence of new internet distribution channels for top-tier movie and TV content, the need for connectivity in mainstream consumer electronics is growing rapidly,” said research director Michael Wolf.

“While the consumer Wi-Fi market has previously consisted largely of routers, gateways and adapters, ABI Research believes that as the market evolves towards digital distribution, its growth will be fueled by the inclusion of embedded Wi-Fi in consumer electronics.”

Meanwhile, ABI Research also claimed that global shipments of dual-mode (cellular/voice over Wi- Fi) wireless handsets would exceed 300 million in 2011.

“Cellular handset vendors have made sure that their voices have been heard in the 802.11n standards process, so they are getting all the optional features that they want,” said senior analyst Philip Solis.

Solis explained that smartphones saw the earliest introduction of Wi- Fi technology. However, because of UMA (and later SIP-based) solutions, Wi-Fi would make its way into ‘enhanced’ phones relatively quickly. ABI claimed that Wi-Fienabled handsets, however, might have to compete with the forthcoming introduction of ‘femtocells’; the new, small cellular base-stations designed for use in residential or corporate environments. Like Wi-Fi access points, they connect to the customer’s own broadband connection, but are claimed to provide cheaper access for consumers.

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