Wi-Fi After Smartphones Vs. Speedy Gonzales After Cheese
April 12, 2010 35 Comments
Believe it or not, Wi-Fi is spreading faster in smartphones than Speedy Gonzales running after Cheese. Another News I forgot to blog about during the CTIA event last month is the fast spread of Wi-Fi in 4G mobile technologies.
According to ABI research, the number of phones shipped with Wi-Fi jumped to 139.3 million in 2009, up from 92.5 million in 2008. The annual shipping number will surpass 500 million units by 2014, when 90 percent of all smartphones will have the technology. And even as smartphones make up more of the handset market, Wi-Fi is expected to grow more common in less-expensive phones.
Given the demand for internet access from everywhere, it does make sense for mobile carriers and handset vendors to focus on this feature to free up their cellular networks. The feature also gives a safety valve for carriers. Some, such as AT&T, have been steadily adding Wi-Fi hotspots to their infrastructure in pursuit of both of these goals. AT&T acquired hotspot provider Wayport in 2008. In addition to providing a place for laptop users with data cards to work, those freely available networks for AT&T subscribers can give frustrated iPhone users a bump in speed while reducing the strain on the carrier’s 3G network.
At the same time, cell phones are becoming a bigger part of the Wi-Fi world. About one-quarter of the 580 million devices that the Wi-Fi Alliance certified last year were phones, including 1.9 million specialized Wi-Fi-only phones.
The Wi-Fi Alliance certifies about 95 percent of all the handsets that have wireless LAN capability and gives them the Wi-Fi seal of approval. The worldwide lineup of phones that include Wi-Fi is no longer limited to a small upper echelon of products: In 2008, the Alliance certified just over 100 individual handset models. In 2009, it signed off on 252 such products.
The latest Wi-Fi technology, IEEE 802.11n, is also starting to find its way into phones. At least one phone with 11n — Samsung’s Wave — announced, and Google’s Nexus One reportedly contains the hardware for it. The move toward 11n is inevitable across the Wi-Fi universe as that technology becomes the default for more products, driving up 11n chip production volumes and driving down prices.
I think one of the main challenges for both mobile carriers and vendors is how to change the consumer behavior. I have an Android phone with Wi-Fi feature. Although, I realize accessing the Internet is much faster via Wi-Fi than 3G using my Android, but I have been always using my 3G to access the Net in a free Wi-Fi zone. I know for sure I am not the only one doing this.
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