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How Wi-Fi Became the Disruptive Enabler

While mobile PCs and portable consumer electronic (CE) devices comprised the majority of Wi-Fi chipset shipments in 2008, mobile handsets and stationary new CE categories are driving the market growth, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

In 2008, Wi-Fi chipsets in mobile handsets grew by more than 51 percent. By 2010, In-Stat anticipates that this category will exceed 20 percent of the total Wi-Fi semiconductor chipset market.

"A new segment of Digital Media Adapters (DMAs), over-the-top devices, is also generating a lot of attention," says Victoria Fodale, In-Stat analyst.

Independent over-the-top (OTT) devices access third-party home entertainment services that are delivered across a broadband network -- typically with no affiliation to a specific broadband service provider.

These emerging OTT video devices include Apple TV, the Netflix player by Roku, and the Blockbuster 2Wire Streaming MediaPoint box.

This is a growing segment to watch, as it disrupts the traditional pay-TV business model -- particularly in trailing markets such as North America, where subscription prices are still very high.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- Total Wi-Fi chipset revenue will pass $4 billion by 2012.

- The Apple iPhone garnered a lot of attention in the handset category, but Nokia and HTC led in Wi-Fi-enabled handset volumes.

- The strong success of new netbook devices is boosting growth in the computing segment.

- 802.11n will surpass 802.11g in the stationary CE embedded chipset segment in 2010.

- New Bluetooth 3.0 specification uses 802.11g technology for the physical layer, which could open up a new market for Wi-Fi chipset suppliers.

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