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Wi-Fi market heats up, says ABI Research

Posted: 17 Mar 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wi-fi? intel? abi research? mini-pci? broadcom?

ABI Research has reported that as Wi-Fi hotspots have moved from being hype to the first stages of established deployment in recent months, the competition in the Wi-Fi market has heated up.

Intel, which almost single-handedly boosted awareness of Wi-Fi with its $300 million Centrino campaign last year, represented less than 5 percent of the market for Wi-Fi chipset shipments in 2003. This is set to change, stated ABI Research, expecting Intel's market share to grow to over 30 percent by 2005.

But Intel's market share growth will be driven almost entirely by mini-PCI cards, the embedded adapters that make laptops Wi-Fi-enabled. Another key segment to the market SOHO and enterprise routers and adapters remains open territory. ABI Research believes that this segment will remain highly competitive, though Broadcom and Conexant are among the best positioned to emerge as market leader.

Both Broadcom and Conexant have moved into the Wi-Fi chipset space from a proven track record in communications ICs such as those for DSL and cable modems. Wi-Fi ICs are a natural progression of their technology and proven capabilities as these companies look to reduce costs by integrating IC components, reported ABI Research.

The companies also have a strong offering in 802.11g and a/g solutions, ABI noted, which makes them contenders for the mini-PCI business. But Intel's brand has the potential to keep other companies down in this segment, ABI said, adding that when Intel rolls out its 802.11a/g chip later this year it will likely consolidate Intel's monopoly on the mini-PCI segment.

Broadcom, who enjoys strong branding for its chipsets and was the first to market with a single-chip Wi-Fi solution, maintains a lot of upside potential. The game for the remaining players in the Wi-Fi IC business is going to be one of branding. Intel has proven its abilities to win consumer mindshare. As future Wi-Fi opportunities continue to be driven by consumer-based volume markets, Intel's competitors must launch strong brand campaigns of their own or make sure they strategically position themselves as the key supplier to an OEM who can, according to ABI.

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