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Shipments of mobile broadband-enabled CEs to hit 50M by '12

Posted: 17 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile broadband? consumer electronics? 3G cellular technology?

A new study from ABI Research found that portable consumer electronics (CE) such as digital cameras, media players and portable gaming devices are beginning to offer direct mobile broadband connections to the Internet. By 2012, annual shipments of such devices are expected to reach 50 million.

"In the near future, connected portable devices will rely more on 3G cellular connections," said Philip Solis, principal analyst. "However, the 3G market is fragmented as there are different carriers, such as EV-DO and HSPA, using different frequencies in different regions of the world. Such fragmentation presents a significant challenge. In addition, such devices have to compete against smartphones that include similar functions increasingly."

The first few products have already appeared from South Korea. Two portable video players including Digital Cube's iStationNetforce and Cowon's Q5 offer 3G connections through add-on HSDPA modules. "A modular approach makes it easier to support multiple carriers but the connectivity is not seamlessly integrated," explained Solis. The first device of this class offering embedded HSDPA is Samsung's VLUU i70 digital camera. Along with a 7.2 megapixel camera, the i70 also shoots video, reads e-books, receives T-DMB television, plays MP3s and video, and allows the user to send or download photos and videos.

Still, ABI said that portable gaming devices and media players are expected to dominate this market. Qualcomm's Snapdragon platform and Freescale's MXC will help enable cellular-based devices, and a wide ecosystem of WiMAX semiconductor vendors will enable devices with embedded WiMAX.

"In the long-term, WiMAX has more potential than cellular-based connections for these devices," said Solis. "It's an IP-based network with simple architecture and better connection to the Internet. Sprint, with its commitment to WiMAX, will promote such devices heavily, thus helping U.S. markets keep up with Korea and Japan."

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