WIMAX WATCH: Laptops and UMPCs to drive early growth
The bulk of early WiMAX device shipments will be laptops and ultra-mobile PCs, according to a new report from Arizona-based In-Stat.
WiMAX is the “WiFi on steroids” wireless technology now entering the mass market via ventures such as the Sprint-backed Clearwire Xohm service being rolled out nationwide in the USA.
Adoption of WiMAX in laptops and smaller devices will be encouraged by the lower cost of the technology compared to cellular and, in some cases, lack of service contracts, In-Stat believes.
“WiMAX will grow by meeting pent-up demand and offering users a lower-cost alternative to existing services,” says In-Stat analyst Daryl Schoolar. “There will also be different classes of operator control over devices. Despite what some observers have said, not all WiMAX devices will follow the WiFi model of full consumer ownership and control.”
In-Stat expects annual WiMAX device shipments to top 10 million in 2010, and to see the technology combined in dual-mode devices that also support the LTE ultra-broadband implementation of GSM cellular.
Another consultancy, London-based Infonetics, points however to the effects of the recession on the WiMAX market. The company reports that worldwide sales of fixed and mobile WiMAX network equipment and portables fell 21 per cent to $245
million in the third quarter of this year by comparison with the previous quarter, and are expected to continue sliding through next year.
Infonetics says that fixed WiMAX had already reached a plateau before the downturn, with mobile WiMAX overtaking fixed WiMAX spending in the
first quarter of this year and now accounting for almost threequarters of
worldwide equipment sales.
“Deployment will be inhibited for the next 12 months,” says wireless analyst Richard Webb. “We expect revenue growth to return in 2010, being driven by mobile WiMAX as increasing numbers of 802.16e networks are rolled out.”
While the recessions will cause some consumers and enterprises to postpone WiMAX adoption, demand for personal broadband services continues to grow, says Infonetics. The number of fixed and mobile WiMAX subscribers is expected to top 76 million worldwide in 2011, with Sprint-Clearwire’s Xohm paving the way for potentially rapid subscriber growth in North America.