Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mobile Internet Devices Adoption Increase

A new class of consumer electronics (CE) device is rapidly emerging, and according to a recent study by ABI Research, these Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) will appeal -- whether as tools or toys -- to a wide variety of consumers.

The ABI report forecasts these always-connected products to see a dramatic growth in popularity over the next five years, with worldwide shipments rising from under 3.5 million this year to nearly 90 million in 2012. Existing consumer electronics manufacturers, with their established retail channels, are logical candidates to be leaders in this market.

"Not long ago, the idea of a portable device that was constantly connected to the Internet would have seemed science fiction," says ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt. "But today a multitude of Mobile Internet Devices aimed at a broad spectrum of consumers are populating a whole new product category. Our research identified eight classes of consumer who will find MIDs interesting for very different reasons."

They include Multimedia Enthusiasts, Gen Y Social Networkers, Younger Gamers, Soccer Moms, Lifestyle Boomers, Adventurers, Frugal Generalists, and Business Application Users.

Of these, the Lifestyle Boomers, the Gen Y Social Networkers, and the Multimedia Enthusiasts will be the most eager adopters -- each accounting for between 16 and 19 percent of the total uptake.

For example, health-conscious baby-boomers with aging parents, young children, and medical issues of their own would find the new class of medical monitoring and tracking devices appealing. Devices aimed at Gen Y Social Networkers would be strongly youth-oriented and would support their always connected with friends media and messaging based lives.

Vendors offering devices for the Multimedia Enthusiast group have a precedent and ready-made market growing out of the current market for smartphones.

Disregarding the once-touted trend of cramming ever more functions into one box, MID users will carry several dedicated devices. Some may even replace their smartphone with a simple, basic mobile phone, using an MID for Internet access.

That sounds expensive, which would suggest a marketplace limited to wealthy consumers in wealthy nations. However, says Schatt, prices will fall rapidly, to the point that the new Chinese middle class may become enthusiastic adopters.