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3G connectivity powers CE, ultramobile apps

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ultramobile application? 3G? HSPA? Wi-Fi?

Integration of 3G technologies into mobile handsets and nationwide rollouts of 3G networks have resulted in mobile Internet connectivity becoming a reality. Technologies such as High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) are now making headway into consumer electronics products outside of the traditional cellular space. IMS Research estimates that in 2008, suppliers shipped over 3.5 million 3G-enabled devices (excluding mobile handsets, notebooks and dongles) with over 80 percent of these deployed in Europe. By 2014, the firm forecasts annual shipment volume of wireless wide area network-enabled devices at 90 million units.

Netbooks currently comprise the largest share of non-traditional 3G-connected devices, but competition in this space will only intensify as suppliers in the computing and CE markets look to further increase product value props and sustain revenues. ASUS, iRiver, and BenQ are just a few of the CE players with recent mobile network operator (MNO) distribution contracts.

On the service provider side, numerous MNO leaders, such as European T-Mobile, Italian TIM, French SFR, U.S. AT&T and most recently announced U.S. Verizon, have expended their product distribution strategies to include products such as laptop, netbook, personal navigation device (PND) and mobile Internet device (MID). Dell's recent application with Japanese authorities for a mobile virtual network operator license and its new offering that bundles HSPA-enabled laptops with a broadband service illustrates an aggressive strategy that even bypasses reliance on the service provider to distribute its 3G connected products.

A new study from IMS Research, Convergence in Portable Devices, analyzes the impact that evolution in various CE product categories will have on volume shipments, manufacturer revenues, and consumer expectations. Anna Hunt, principal analyst and report author, said, "Availability of 3G-enabled products in most portable device categories is an eventuality in today's connected world. Yet, to obtain additional monthly subscription fees from consumers, OEMs and service providers will need to be creative with their business strategies and subsidize heavily." Hunt added that in certain categories, such as portable games console, Wi-Fi has faired well as the de-facto standard. "Yet always-connected 3G functionality lends itself better for markets such as PND and MID, as it does not limit consumers' mobility to Hotspots and Wi-Fi networks."

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