The number of Wi-Fi enabled devices shipped in 2012 is expected to exceed 1.5 billion, almost double that in 2010, according to ABI Research. Growth is occurring across many markets including mobile handsets, laptops, media tablets, printers, TVs, and automotive. “Since 2009 over 9 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices have been shipped,” commented Peter Cooney, wireless connectivity practice director, “whilst growth was driven by networking in the early years the smartphone soon became the major market. Growth in the next few years will be increasingly driven by a whole host of applications in the mobile and connected home space.”
One key growth area is the connected home, in particular the increasingly popular connected TV. Wi-Fi is currently widely used for Internet access in connected TVs but wired connections are also used in many cases. 17 million Wi-Fi enabled flat panel TVs were shipped in 2011, this grew to 30 million in 2012 and is forecast to grow four-fold by 2017.
“Wi-Fi is expected to become ubiquitous in coming years, not only to allow wireless Internet access, but mainly as consumers increasingly demand wireless connections between TVs and other devices such as smartphones and media tablets,” added Cooney. “The forthcoming Wi-Fi display specification or Miracast, will further drive Wi-Fi attach rates in the connected home as consumers embrace the technology.”
The top six leading suppliers of Wi-Fi integrated chipsets (ICs): Broadcom, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Marvell, Intel, and Texas Instruments accounted for over 85% of total market revenues in 2011. Many of these suppliers have relied on the mobile handset and laptop markets to boost Wi-Fi IC revenues over the last few years but newer markets such as connected TVs will increasingly help to drive revenue going forward. Those that have had particular success in the smartphone market will have a distinct advantage in the connected TV market as there is significant synergy between the two markets not only in wireless connectivity but also applications processor requirements.