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Reports: GPS, Wi-Fi to defy '09 slump

Posted: 14 Jan 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GPS? Wi-Fi? WLAN? navigation location technology?

The markets for chips focusing on the Wi-Fi, GPS navigation and location technology sectors could defy the global semiconductor downturn this year, according to two separate reports.

IMS Research suggests the GPS market will grow by over $200 million over the next 12 months. "In 2009 GPS will begin to penetrate into a range of vertical markets, such as cameras, laptops, sporting equipment and first responder radios. This will help to drive shipment growth of over 25 percent year-on-year," according to IMS Research analyst, Tom Arran.

The market researchers suggest 2009 will be a reasonable but not booming year for GPS shipments, but that the sector will have a 21.2 percent CAGR between 2008 and 2013.

"Location is emerging as a key component of future offerings from companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Nokia, Intel, Mozilla and Ericsson. This will enable a host of new services across all key vertical markets, which in turn will further drive the uptake of GPS," said Arran.

However, he notes there are numerous challenges ahead and the GPS market will need to mature before it breaks the 500 million units per year barrier.

One of the main issues, he warns, is poor performance in challenging environments. "GPS manufacturers need to start seriously considering hybrid location in their offering," said Arran.

WLAN boom
Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi Alliance suggests growth in WLAN chipsets reached 26 percent in 2008, and similar growth can be achieved this year, mostly driven by consumer and entertainment products.

According to In-Stat, which researched the market on behalf of the Alliance, the y-on-y growth to 387 million chipsets came from a mix of consumer and enterprise sectors, especially those moving towards the 802.11n standard. The growth was particularly notable in Wi-Fi enabled smart phones, netbooks and media devices.

Dual-mode smart phones are said to have grown twice as fast as the high-end handset category as a whole.

In-Stat expects the most resilient Wi-Fi products during 2009 to be, again, dual-mode handsets, as well as portable consumer electronic devices, mobile PCs and fixed products for fast, multimedia home networking.

Just about all handheld gaming devices shipped in 2009 are expected to integrate Wi-Fi capability.

The Wi-FI Alliance also believes the use of Wi-Fi for device-to-device connectivity and syncing on the fly will grow significantly this year. Proprietary implementations of this capability are just beginning to take off, and the industry body is working to develop a standard approach, which will come to market in 2010.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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