More Than 1 Billion Devices to Have Embedded Wireless Networking Capability

Friday, April 15th, 2011
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Shipments of electronic products with embedded wireless local area networking technology (WLAN) will surpass one billion units for the first time ever in 2011 and then rise to more than two billion in 2015, as ubiquitous connectivity increasingly becomes a standard feature, new IHS iSuppli research indicates.

Shipments of consumer electronics, computer, communications and automotive products with built-in WLAN capability such as Wi-Fi will amount to 1.2 billion units in 2011, up 35.8 percent from 880.4 billion units in 2010. In 2015, shipments will nearly double from the 2011 level to reach 2.2 billion.

Total Suitable Equipment with embedded WLAN; Percentage penetration in Total Suitable Equipment

“In today’s world of connected electronics, consumers expect seamless access to Internet communications, services and content in any place and at any time,” said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for communications and consumer electronics at IHS. “From sharing Facebook news on their iPads, to viewing Hulu programs on their flat-panel TVs, to streaming audio and video in cars with their automotive infotainment systems, consumers depend on built-in WLAN technology to get the most out of their electronic products. Because of this, embedded WLAN is becoming the norm for all kinds of devices.”

In 2011, 19.7 percent of suitable devices shipped worldwide will have some form of embedded WLAN, up from 15.6 percent in 2010. By 2015, that percentage will rise to 28.1 percent.

The penetration of embedded WLAN has risen dramatically in recent years, expanding from just 1 percent of these devices in 2002.

IHS iSuppli research tracks 28 major categories of electronic products that are adopting WLAN technology. These devices include PCs, cell phones, digital cameras and camcorders, home and handheld video game consoles, televisions, set-top boxes and portable navigation devices.

Early Adopters

Several product categories in 2011 already are expected to have 100 percent penetration for embedded WLAN, including media tablets, access point/routers and handheld video game consoles. Others are near 100 percent, such as mobile PCs and home video game consoles.

In terms of shipments, cell phones represent the largest category for embedded WLAN, with 512.8 million units set to ship this year. Mobile PCs will come in second at 230.1 million units.

Fast Growers

During the next few years, the fastest growth in embedded WLAN will be generated by other categories of devices.

Leading the way will be automotive electronics head units, whose embedded WLAN penetration will rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 98.2 percent from 2010 to 2015. The penetration of embedded WLAN technology in liquid crystal display televisions (LCD TVs) will rise at a CAGR of 77.8 percent from 2010 to 2015. By the end of 2015, a significant majority of LCD TVs will include embedded WLAN, up from 2 percent in 2010 and 9 percent in 2011.

Other fast-growing segments in the coming years will be digital camcorders and still cameras, DVD players and recorders, and e-book readers.

More: Evolution of Standards Blurs Lines for Wireless Connectivity Applications