EL SEGUNDO, CA — With Wi-Fi functionality becoming a standard feature in a host of electronic devices spanning televisions, cameras and car entertainment systems, shipments of wireless local area network (WLAN) chipsets will double in 2011, according to new IHS iSuppli research.
Shipments of WLAN chipsets, mainly Wi-Fi compatible devices, are projected to reach 738.9 million units this year, up a resounding 101.5 percent from 366.8 million units in 2010. Shipment of the chipsets will rise to exceed 1 billion units in shipments next year and then hit more than 2 billion units by 2014.
“Wireless connectivity has become a must-have item in electronic devices in the computer, consumer, communications and automotive markets,” said Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for consumer and communication electronics at IHS. “These days, an electronic product not capable of communicating or accessing content at any time or in any place is regarded by consumers as deficient. This wireless revolution is contributing to a global boom in demand for Wi-Fi chipsets.”
WLAN chipsets can be found in both standalone solutions and embedded devices. The standalone category includes devices such as point/bridge routers; the embedded category comprises a broad range of electronic devices, including laptops, mobile handsets, tablets, high-definition televisions, portable media players, printers, cameras, camcorders, DVD and Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, personal navigation devices and high-end automotive head units.
While WLAN chipsets mainly are based on the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, other connectivity technologies are also making significant inroads into the daily lives of consumers. For instance, there’s the Wireless Personal Area Networking (WPAN) segment, which encompasses disparate technologies like Bluetooth and Near Field Communications. In both the WLAN and WPAN technologies, radio waves transmit and exchange data over short distances between devices, enhancing their mobility and ease of use.
Another connectivity technology, Zigbee, is trying to gain momentum in the home automation and smart utility monitoring applications for residential and commercial building environments. Hopes are being pinned on Zigbee to achieve traction in applications like the heating, cooling and lighting of living spaces, as well as the monitoring of gas, water and electrical utilities.
“As Wi-Fi increasingly develops into a standard wireless networking interface for innumerable devices, the easy interconnection capabilities inherent in the technology will open the door for an even greater range of consumer electronic devices to be seamlessly connected and networked,” Rebello said. “In turn, significant new business opportunities can be expected to emerge for the silicon suppliers, consumer electronics manufacturers and communication service providers operating in the WLAN space.”
Broadcom Corp., which emerged as the leader among WLAN chip suppliers in 2008, maintained its top position at least through the first half of 2010. Other important suppliers are Atheros Communications, which boasts a strong position in the embedded WLAN market for notebooks; and Ralink, a fast-growing design company for integrated circuits based in Taiwan.
Learn more about what’s happening in the wireless space in Rebello’s latest report, entitled: Evolution of Standards Blur Lines for Wireless Connectivity Applications at: