Wireless gizmos set to boost WWAN chipset sales

Growing sales of wirelessly enabled consumer devices will generate new growth opportunities for semiconductor suppliers.

According to analyst company iSuppli,  these new devices will spur soaring shipments of embedded Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) chipsets for slate-type tablets, which by 2014, will account to 20.7 million embedded WWAN chipsets being shipped to the slate-type tablet market. This, the company said also includes the iPad, which was up from almost zero in 2009.

Francis Sideco, principal analyst for wireless communications at iSuppli, said: “While the handset market undoubtedly will remain the driving force in the wireless industry, a crop of new wireless consumer devices such as slates, netbooks, eReaders and Portable Media Players (PMPs) have opened up an adjacent market, offering new opportunities for semiconductor vendors playing in this space,”

He said as a new decade begins in 2010, the objective in the wireless industry is no longer simply to achieve ubiquitous coverage, but rather to obtain ubiquitous presence for wireless-enabled devices.

“This is the reason why many companies are exploring markets outside of the traditional handset for future growth.” he added.

According to the company many devices in the handset market use similar or identical components, which has created an opportunity “among all nodes in the wireless value chain to expand the total available market, with only minor modifications to existing products.”

iSuppli said all the new products utilise the same methods currently used in handsets and laptops to provide WWAN connectivity. This can wither be done through USB dongles on or by embedded modules or chipsets on the other.

It said while some products are expanding the overall wireless semiconductor market, the re-emergence of the slate segment, which includes the Apple iPad and its competitors has “invigorated chip vendors.”

iSuppli said that the multimedia consumption slate devices use will be the primary and most significant driver for the use of embedded WWAN capability in the next five years.

It said as these devices use similar operating systems and chips as some smart phones, a new strategy is emerging from some wireless device manufacturers to leverage their ecosystem across multiple platforms. In doing so, these manufacturers will be able to offer consumers the ability for both device types to interact with each other.

This could mean the reuse or transfer of data and content from one device to the other, or seamless transitioning from using one device for one task to the next.

It gave examples of how this “interaction and strategy was a key driver for the success of OEMs in this market”. It said in the case of Apple, this was already happening with the iPad and iPhone devices.

Nokia also has this strategy in place through its partnership with Intel as well as with Hewlett-Packard, in its acquisition of Palm, the company added.

It said it expected other OEMs will follow suit.

In their fourth year of availability, eReaders continue to be dominated by Amazon’s Kindle. However, the company said that as the market continued to mature and business models were found to work other multifunctional devices, would start looking at this market. The competition mainly is coming from the slate tablet and smart phone segments, but it this could change and arise from any handheld device capable of being loaded with a third-party application, the company said.

Watch this space.