Wi-Fi Ubiquity

ABI came out with a press release last week saying that 770 million Wi-Fi chips will ship in 2010. This is an amazing number. Where are they all going? Fortunately ABI included a bar-chart with this information in the press release. Here it is (click on it for a full-size view):

Wi-Fi chip shipments worldwide. Source: ABI

The y axis isn’t labeled, but the divisions appear to be roughly 200 million units.

This year shows roughly equal shipments going to phones, mobile PCs, and everything else. There is no category of Access Points, so presumably less of those are sold than “pure VoWi-Fi handsets.” I find this surprising, since I expect the category of pure VoWi-Fi handsets to remain moribund. Gigaset, which makes an excellent cordless handset for VoIP, stopped using Wi-Fi and went over to DECT because of its superior characteristics for this application.

There is also no listing for tablet PCs, a category set to boom; they must be subsumed under MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices).

The chart shows the portable music player category growing vigorously through 2015. iPod unit sales were down 8% year on year in 1Q10, and pretty much stagnant since 2007. ABI must be thinking that even with unit sales dropping, the attach rate of Wi-Fi will soar.

The category of “Computer Peripherals” will probably grow faster than ABI seems to anticipate. Wireless keyboards and mice use either Bluetooth or proprietary radios currently, but the new Wi-Fi alliance specification “Wi-Fi Direct” will change that. Ozmo is aiming to use Wi-Fi to improve battery life in mice and keyboards two to three-fold. Since all laptops, most all-in-one PCs and many regular desktops already have Wi-Fi built-in (that’s at least double the Bluetooth attach rate) this may be an attractive proposition for the makers (and purchasers) of wireless mice and keyboards. Booming sales of tablet PCs may further boost sales of wireless keyboards and mice.

2 Replies to “Wi-Fi Ubiquity”

  1. “Gigaset, which makes an excellent cordless handset for VoIP, stopped using Wi-Fi and went over to DECT because of its superior characteristics for this application.” – This is a minor mischaracterization. Gigaset has made DECT systems since the beginning of DECT, long before Wifi was introduced. They did try a VoWifi offering, but found it lacking so ceased to pursue VoWifi further.

    I’ve tried numerous VoWifi handsets of the years. Not one could compete with DECT. The simple fact is that Wifi lacks many of the optimizations for the voice application. Recent extensions to the 802.11x standards aim to improve this, bit it seems unlikely that it will ever catch DECT.

    Conversely, DECT was once viewed as a wireless data networking standard. In this role it is regrettable, and so that application was demoted within the DECT forum. Here again, recent extensions to the related standards have again taken up the idea of DECT as a wireless network scheme for things like home automation systems.

  2. Ozmo seems to have an interesting product. I can’t wait to hear more about their Wi-Fi PAN solution in the coming months. They seem to be significant competition to Bluetooth.

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