Mobile Internet Device Shipments to Rise Nearly Eightfold by 2012
Published on: 12th March 2009
The definition of the Mobile Internet Device (MID) may be somewhat nebulous, given the category overlaps multiple products, ranging from some Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs) to certain Portable Media Players (PMPs). However, there's nothing nebulous about the MID growth opportunity, with global unit shipments expected to expand by nearly a factor of eight from 2007 to 2012, according to iSuppli Corp.
Global MID shipments are set to rise to 416 million units in 2012, rising at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 50.6 percent from 53.8 million in 2007.
iSuppli defines MIDs as devices that have integrated connectivity for Wireless Local Area Network (WLANs), Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks (WMANs) or 3G-or-higher Worldwide Wide Area Networks (WWANs). They also must a maximum-sized display of 8-inches in the diagonal dimension, an instant-on function, an always-connectable capability and a full day's worth of battery life under typical usage scenarios.
Because of this wide-ranging definition, many products now fit the MID definition, with many more to join the fold during the coming years.
"The market for MIDs does not just reside in one big multipurpose platform, but instead encompasses segments of various product markets, including UMPCs, netbooks, smart phones, portable navigation devices, e-book readers, portable media/MP3 players and handheld gaming devices," observed Francis Sideco, senior analyst, wireless communications, for iSuppli.
"Each MID device segment enjoys varying levels of penetration in the market, with smart phones leading the way, followed by e-book readers, and to a lesser extent, UMPCs and gaming devices."
"People like MID functionality because it opens up services, applications, business models and cross-industry relationships that were never possible before."
Smart phones move to the MID
Among the MID devices included in the forecast period from 2008 to 2012, smart phones are projected to dominate the segment. iSuppli estimates that about 60 percent of all smart phones now are considered MID-class devices, but that figure will rise to cover 100 percent by 2012. A key gating factor is the inclusion of WLAN or 3G connectivity, and applications like video downloads, gaming and full Internet browsing will proliferate when smart phones attain 3G-speed downlink and uplink capabilities.
E-book readers open MID chapter
Despite their relatively recent arrival on the scene, e-book readers already have achieved 35 percent MID penetration as of 2008, which will then rise to 76 percent by 2012. The high penetration primarily is driven by the success of Amazon's Kindle, with 100 percent WWAN penetration; and of Sony's counterpart, the Sony Reader, which has 25 percent WLAN penetration. Kindle, for instance, integrates ubiquitous wireless connectivity within the e-book reader to deliver real-time news, on-the-go media purchasing and even e-mail applications.
Ultra-Mobile PCs and netbooks adopt MID capabilities
A mere 2 percent of all UMPCs were considered to be MID-class in 2008, but the figure is expected to grow to 28 percent by 2012. Key factors increasing MID penetration in this area include continued improvements to instant-on capabilities and battery-life performance.
iSuppli considered netbooks in its research because they provide a low-cost alternative to UMPCs when netbooks are employed as portable devices. Key factors excluding most netbooks from being considered as MIDs include screen size, instant-on capabilities and battery life. However, battery-life performance in some netbooks will reach MID performance levels by 2012.
Gaming devices, PMP/MP3 players and PNDs
For gaming devices, only 2.8 percent can be considered MID-class by 2011 if the full set of criteria is brought to bear, with the rate increasing markedly to 15.1 percent the year after. However, if the requirement for ubiquitous coverage is relaxed to cover only WLAN, then the percentage of gaming devices that can be considered MID-class shoots up to 98.6 percent in 2008, with the figure rising to 100 percent by 2011.
In the case of Portable Media Players (PMP)/MP3 players, no significant volume shipments occurred as of 2008. Only 3 percent of the devices will be MID-class by 2012, but a potential upside to this market exists if manufacturers increase the amount of WWAN support for the players, which are capable of delivering rich multimedia content and experience.
Among Portable Navigation Devices (PNDs), a mere 0.22 percent currently are MID-class-capable, with the number growing to 10 percent by 2012. The one criterion driving PNDs for MID functionality is the rate of wireless connectivity, primarily through WWAN. Once enabled, PNDs allow the implementation of solutions such as real-time traffic, rerouting, remote map and database updates, location-aware advertising and purchasing of services such as fast-food orders and gas purchases. PNDs are also unique among MID devices in that they have the automobile as a power source and are, therefore, not limited by battery-life constraints.
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