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Worldwide Mobile and WiFi Phone Forecast

Worldwide mobile phone sales reached $115.5 billion in 2006, and WiFi phone sales topped $535 million, up 13 percent and 327 percent from 2005, respectively, says analyst firm Infonetics Research.

As prices continue to drop, demand will continue to grow for both mobile and WiFi VoIP phones in 2007. Worldwide, shipments of mobile handsets jumped 27 percent between 2005 and 2006, and single- and dual-mode WiFi handsets together jumped 489 percent.

For the 4-year period between 2007 and 2010, shipments for mobile handsets are forecast to increase 26 percent, and WiFi handsets are forecast to increase nearly 1300 percent.

The fastest growing segment in the market by far is the dual-mode WiFi/cellular VoIP phone, with worldwide units shipping at a phenomenal rate: Infonetics forecasts a 5-year compound annual growth rate of 198 percent between 2006 and 2010.

"Users are demanding single number/single device services, and operators like T-Mobile announced converged services based on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) in 2006," said Richard Webb, directing analyst for wireless at Infonetics Research. "UMA is a good example of early fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), prior to the eventual shift to IMS in the long-term."

"More operators are transforming into integrated multimedia service providers, creating converged mobile, wireless LAN, and VoIP solutions that support voice and data services across enterprise, public, and home networks," Webb added. "The appeal of such converged services is driving WiFi phone adoption, especially in dual-mode WiFi/cellular handsets."

Single-mode WiFi-only VoIP handsets are also selling well, mostly in the enterprise space driven by pioneers like SpectraLink, but increasingly in the consumer space as well. Numerous Skype-enabled single-mode phones were launched in 2006 by the likes of D-Link, Linksys, and NETGEAR, and shipments will start to ramp up in 2007.

Mobile Handset Highlights:

- 2G/2.5G GSM handsets made up 49 percent of worldwide mobile phone revenue in 2006; the remainder was made up by 2G CDMA, W-CDMA, and CDMA2000 handset sales.

- Worldwide mobile subscribers are estimated at 2.5 billion in 2006 (up 26 percent from 2005), and are forecast to grow 42 percent to 3.6 billion in 2010.

- 47 percent of all mobile subscribers come from Asia Pacific, 36 percent from EMEA, 9 percent from North America, and 8 percent from CALA.

WiFi Handset Highlights:

- Cisco leads in single-mode WiFi handset revenue market share in 2006, followed by SpectraLink.

- Samsung leads in dual-mode WiFi/cellular handset revenue market share, followed by Nokia.

- In 2006, 71 percent of WiFi phone revenue was from dual-mode handsets, 29 percent from single-mode WiFi VoIP handsets.

- North America leads in worldwide revenue for single-mode WiFi phones, and Asia Pacific leads in revenue for dual-mode WiFi/cellular phones.

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