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2009 will see a total of 1.2 billion mobile devices shipped, according to the latest data from ABI Research. That includes all categories of wireless devices including cellular handsets, MIDs (mobile Internet devices), netbooks, mobile consumer electronics products, and cellular modems.

“The convergence period for cellular communications is coming to an end, and now we are entering a period of divergence. For many devices the technology is already in place, it’s just the business and billing models that need to be built. The next five years will see a shift in the breakdown between types of mobile devices shipped,” said industry analyst Michael Morgan from ABI.

Shipments of these devices will have nearly doubled in 2014 to a total of 2.25 billion, according to the firm’s new forecasts. Today, wireless handsets rule the roost, with other mobile devices accounting for only 40 million shipments and cellular modems only 60 million. While handset shipments did actually decrease between 2008 and 2009 due to the global recession, the other two segments in fact grew very aggressively, according to ABI.

“Handset sales are growing at only 4%, while cellular modem shipments are expected to grow by 40% annually, and ultra mobile devices by 67%. These newer categories represent very attractive market opportunities and new revenue streams for operators,” said Mr. Morgan.

These developments put smartphones in direct competition with a variety of other device segments for consumer’s dollars. This means that some handset vendors may need to seek a greater part of their business in the low cost and ultra-low cost segments, while MIDs and netbooks will have to better define their unique use cases and value propositions. The same will apply to cellular modems, and operator subsidies will also have an important influence on the sale of these devices.

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