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Mobile Internet Device Market Diversification

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, almost 35 million netbook PCs will be shipped by manufacturers in 2009 -- a forecast the firm first made in February. ASUS dominated the netbook category in 2007 when it debuted the Eee PC, and Acer made a big push in the forth quarter of 2008 to lead the second year.

"74 percent of 2008 netbook shipments bore the brands of just three vendors: Acer, ASUS, and Samsung," says senior analyst Jeff Orr. "However, the rapid growth of netbooks as a second computer in developed markets will be eclipsed in coming years by vendors targeting developing nations and first Internet PCs at home."

The netbook and nascent mobile Internet device (MID) markets are not locked up. While several of the leading netbook vendors are recognizable brands from the laptop and desktop computing markets, new vendors -- including handset maker Nokia -- have introduced netbooks and MIDs in an effort to participate in the growth of these segments.

ABI Research forecasts UMDs (Ultra-mobile Devices: the combination of Netbooks, MIDs and UMPCs) to top 124 million systems shipped in 2011.

As netbook markets thrive, the mobile consumer electronics category, which is expected to account for only about two million device shipments this year, is forecast to top 50 million in 2014.

This market is currently led by connected Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) and eBook readers. Every major navigation company is in the running, offering turn-by-turn navigation, overlays, weather, traffic, and real-time traffic updates. Amazon's Kindle has lots of competition coming from the Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Daily Edition, iRex, Plastic Logic Que and others.

Finally, Orr believes, laptop vendors may soon reinvent the UMPC, bringing down the low-end laptop price to $500 through ultra-low voltage machines. That could affect some netbook sales in developed markets, especially the business users.

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