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Wi-Fi Enabled Consumer Electronics Growth

With Wi-Fi appearing in mobile PCs, home routers, and phones, there has been much hype around Wi-Fi crossing over into the Consumer Electronics (CE) space, reports In-Stat.

But the CE space is just warming up to Wi-Fi, with some device segments such as gaming consoles and handheld games welcoming Wi-Fi with open arms. In other device segments, such as digital video camcorders and standalone Personal Video Recorders (PVRs), the door has been kept shut on Wi-Fi.

"The beauty of Wi-Fi's adoption into high-volume CE categories is that even single-digit attach rates can translate into millions of Wi-Fi shipments," says In-Stat's Gemma Tedesco. "For example, even with sub 10 percent attach rates expected for set top boxes and digital TVs in 2010, Wi-Fi-enabled shipments in these device segments are still expected to number in the millions."

In-Stat's study found the following:

- Digital Rights Management, combined with a lack of consumer understanding around multimedia home networking, may continue to hinder Wi-Fi's uptake into CE devices designed to access and/or distribute online content.

- Although Wi-Fi offers networking capabilities not provided by wireless Personal Area Network (PAN) technologies, there are some device segments -- such as digital video camcorders, digital still cameras and printers -- where Wi-Fi faces technology competitors such as the emerging Wireless USB.

- Handheld game shipments with embedded Wi-Fi are expected to reach 28 million units in 2006. Gaming consoles with embedded Wi-Fi are expected to ramp up to approximately 5 million by the end of 2006, driven by the fourth quarter release of Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii.

- 802.11n is expected to drive Wi-Fi uptake into core digital living room devices such as digital TVs and set top boxes.

- Major vendor moves in the CE space include Apple's planned launch of a Wi-Fi media adapter in 2007, and Microsoft's release of its Wi-Fi-enabled Zune portable digital music player in late 2006. Innovative Wi-Fi-enabled CE devices are available from a variety of vendors. But, to really push Wi-Fi into specific CE segments, vendors will have to devote significant marketing resources, and, most importantly, provide a skillful implementation of Wi-Fi that really demonstrates the technology's value-add.

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