Mobile phones with embedded Wi-Fi connectivity continued to experience growth in 2009 despite total handset shipment declines, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.
While the 2009 Wi-Fi mobile handset growth rate of more than 20 percent was significantly slower than the 2008, In-Stat still expects that 2010 will see resumed strength with units exceeding 180 million.
While the majority of current Wi-Fi enabled handsets are smartphones, feature phone manufacturers are also beginning to incorporate this feature -- providing a double stimulus for Wi-Fi handset growth.
"There are three primary zones of Wi-Fi handset usage," says Frank Dickson, In-Stat analyst. "At home, at the office and on the go. In the home, while broadband penetration has increased significantly over the past several years, so too has Wi-Fi home network penetration."
Enterprise smartphones will continue evolving to leverage VoIP's potential. On the go, consumers are increasingly leveraging Wi-Fi enabled handsets. Mainstream VoIP Apps, such as Skpe mobile, are now being accepted by mobile service providers -- as they overcome their revenue cannibalization fears.
I believe that when Google re-introduces the free Gizmo5 software-phone application, or another VoIP App for Android mobiles, we should see additional mainstream market uptake.
In-Stat's market study found the following:
- While the majority of respondents still access hotspots with a notebook PC, more than a quarter of the responses indicated accessing a public network with Wi-Fi enabled handsets.
- The potential for voice over Wi-Fi is gaining popularity, as cellular/Wi-Fi phones become more pervasive and consumer familiarity with VoIP increases.
- The Wi-Fi attach rate (percent of handsets with embedded Wi-Fi) will nearly triple from 2009's rate by 2013.
- While the enterprise was the original smartphone/Wi-Fi handset market, consumer adoption has also experienced strong growth, largely due to the success of Apple's iPhone.