Demand for mobile internet devices to grow eight-fold by 2012

13 Mar 2009

Global sales of mobile internet devices, ranging from ultra-mobile PCs (UMPC) to portable media players, ebooks and game consoles, are set to rise to 416 million units in 2012 from the present 53.8 million, according to iSuppli.

iSuppli defines mobile internet devices (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 multi-purpose platform, but instead encompasses segments of various product markets, including UMPCs, netbooks, smart phones, portable navigation devices, ebook readers, portable media/MP3 players and handheld gaming devices,” observed Francis Sideco, senior analyst, wireless communications, iSuppli.

“Each MID device segment enjoys varying levels of penetration in the market, with smart phones leading the way, followed by ebook 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.”

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 60pc of all smart phones now are considered MID-class devices, but that figure will rise to cover 100pc by 2012. A key gating factor is the inclusion of WLAN or 3G connectivity, and applications such as video downloads, gaming and full internet browsing will proliferate when smart phones attain 3G-speed downlink and uplink capabilities.

Despite their relatively recent arrival on the scene, ebook readers already have achieved 35pc MID penetration as of 2008, and are predicted to rise to 76pc by 2012.

The high penetration primarily is driven by the success of Amazon’s Kindle, with 100pc WWAN penetration; and of Sony’s counterpart, the Sony Reader, which has 25pc WLAN penetration. The Kindle, for instance, integrates ubiquitous wireless connectivity within the ebook reader to deliver real-time news, on-the-go media purchasing and even email applications.

A mere 2pc of all UMPCs were considered to be MID-class in 2008, but the figure is expected to grow to 28pc by 2012. Key factors increasing MID penetration in this area include continued improvements to instant-on capabilities and battery-life performance.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: ebook readers such as the Amazon Kindle have already have achieved 35pc MID penetration as of 2008