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Key Forecasts Highlight Rapid Evolution of the Ultra-Mobile Device Market

  • Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

The fledgling market for ultra-mobile devices (UMDs) – a catch-all term that includes ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs), netbooks, and mobile Internet devices (MIDs) – is already complex, and will become more complicated as it grows. A few salient forecast numbers may serve to guide vendors and investors as they negotiate this tricky landscape.

According to ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis, “Total revenues earned by vendors in the UMD market are expected to increase from $3.5 billion in 2008 to nearly $27 billion in 2013.”

This year, retail sales account for only 14% of shipments, while UMDs provided by mobile operators stand at nearly 30%; the balance are sold directly by manufacturers. Over five years, however, that distribution mix will change significantly. Operators currently subsidize UMDs for the sake of their potential services revenue, but they would prefer not to. By 2013, only 20% will be operator-provided, while retail sales are expected to account for 75%.

In 2013 more than half of all UMDs will have x86 processors at their heart (largely Intel’s Atom), with the balance based on ARM processors. When it comes to operating systems, in 2013 Linux will outnumber Windows devices by two to one across all UMDs, despite the higher return rate for Linux products (compared to Windows products) experienced by netbook vendors today.

Some MIDs will offer cellular voice services. “MIDs without cellular voice will be seen by users as ‘companion devices’,” says Solis. “They will be used in addition to mobile phones and not necessarily carried at all times. Cellular voice-enabled MIDs, in contrast, will be able to replace phones entirely; they will become the new high-end smartphones.”

ABI Research has painted a comprehensive quantitative picture of the UMD market in its “MIDs and Mobile CE Market Data”. It provides forecasts for all UMDs including shipments, ASPs, and revenue, broken out by type, region, platform, and operating system as well as by features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ultra Wideband, and GPS. For MIDs, microsegmentation forecasts are provided, as are forecasts for the inclusion of cellular voice in MIDs. [ABI Research]

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