ABI Research: 385 Million Ultra Mobile Devices to Ship in 2014

  • Netbooks
NEW YORK - The netbook, or ultralight computer designed mainly for Web access, exploded into the public consciousness in the past year. Suddenly netbooks seem to be everywhere, and they have emerged as an important driver for the growth of Internet traffic. ABI Research expects netbooks and related devices to become even more ubiquitous over the next five years. The market research firm forecasts the Ultra Mobile Device (UMD) market – which includes  UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs), netbooks, MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) and mobile consumer electronics devices combined – to achieve a 385 million-unit size in 2014. The diversity of form factors and device types we see today will likely continue as vendors look to meet each audience’s unique preferences.

“Consumers and business buyers are only recently accustomed to the netbook feature set,” says senior analyst Jeff Orr. “Regardless of vendor, the majority of today’s netbooks ship with Intel processors and Windows XP into developed markets.” As uptake continues, developing markets will become the larger opportunity. The premium netbook category will also be established, offering larger screens and greater choices in connectivity solutions. With little distinction today in feature sets and a relatively small price band, brands are differentiating themselves on aesthetics and build quality.

Pocketable MIDs remain a far more interesting product segment to watch, says Orr, as the market is still emerging. While the most common product design remains the tablet form, competing form factors such as models with slider keyboards, clamshells and touch-screen-only interfaces are gaining in popularity. He adds, “However, there is a danger that the MID market will disappear before it gets the chance to mature, as smartphones increase in popularity and mimic most, if not all, tasks performed by MIDs.” The line distinguishing MIDs from smartphones may blur as MIDs add voice: Nokia has equipped its latest “Internet Tablet,” the model N900, with cellular voice capabilities, for example.

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