33 million WLAN chips to be sold in 2003

2002 was a great year for wireless LAN component manufacturers as sales of wireless LAN chipsets growing strongly over the previous year, despite a very slow world economy and a static semiconductor market in general.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  April 8, 2003

2002 was a great year for wireless LAN component manufacturers as sales of wireless LAN chipsets growing strongly over the previous year, despite a very slow world economy and a static semiconductor market in general. According to high-tech market research firm Stat/MDR most of these sales were driven by the huge popularity of 802.11b (Wi-Fi). 802.11g products have started to arrive with great customer acceptance and 802.11a and combo chips will also play importantly into the mix.

“2002 could best be described as a transitional year for wireless LAN; for both chipmakers, and the standard overall,” says Allen Nogee, a Principal Analyst with In-Stat/MDR.

“It was the year that wireless LAN made the transition from niche application to mainstream technology and one in which chipmakers refined their strategies, and formed alliances and partnerships in preparation for the long-haul. In addition, it was a year in which direct-conversion architectures, using RF CMOS, gained legitimacy, and a year where Bi-CMOS and super heterodyne designs had their supporters as well,” she adds.

In-Stat/MDR has also found that despite political instability concerns, a very slow worldwide economy, and a horrible time for semiconductor manufacturers in general, wireless LAN chipsets sold grew to more than twice the level of the previous year, to over 20 million.

It also found that in 2003, the amount of growth in wireless LAN doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. With wireless LAN chip prices still dropping rapidly, and the number of uses for these chips increasing just about every day, there is no question that the growth of Wireless LAN will continue. In 2003, the number of chipsets forecast to be sold will reach over 33 million, and by 2007, the number of wireless LAN chipsets is forecast to be over 94 million.

In-Stat/MDR said fuelling growth is one giant application with a second, potentially giant, application waiting in the wings. The current giant application is the laptop, perhaps the original wireless LAN application that started it all. Both Intel and Microsoft want to see wireless LAN included in all new laptops sold, and all indications are that soon it will be.

In-Stat/MDR is forecasting that by the end of next year, over 70% of new laptops purchased will come with some type of integrated wireless LAN support. The second, potentially giant, wireless LAN application is wireless LAN embedded in a cellular handset and used for Voice-over-IP (VoIP). While this application is still in its infancy, the potential for hundreds of millions of wireless LAN chips is certainly present.

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