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Wi-Fi handset shipments have exploded over the past year, and will continue to show strong growth over the next several years. With the increasing prevalence of Wi-Fi enabled handsets, hotspot usage by handheld devices has increased significantly, according to In-Stat market research firm.

“The ubiquity of Wi-Fi has created hotspot coverage as an expected amenity at many places of business. While consumer or leisure users do not often carry a laptop, they do have Wi-Fi enabled handhelds and are using these devices to access hotspots. This, coupled with the service being bundled with mobile plans, is making hotspot access much more consumer-oriented compared to the service’s former business focus,” said Frank Dickson, an In-Stat analyst.

As a percentage of total connects, handhelds increased from 20% in 2008 to 35% in 2009. By 2011 handhelds are anticipated to account for half of hotspot connects reports In-Stat. Wi-Fi handset shipments have increased significantly over the past several years. From 2007 to 2008, shipments increased by over 50%. This growth is a result from increased phone functionality, falling price points, and carrier promotion.

Other factors are affecting handheld usage growth as well. There is a predominance of mobile carriers in the hotspot market, resulting in promotion of Wi-Fi enabled handset devices on their networks. New dual-mode Wi-Fi phones are coming to the market. Growth in applications, such as content download, or even more so VoFi, will drive usage of handheld devices over the coming years. Finally, markets, such as China, are opening for hotspots that have previously restricted Wi-Fi usage on handhelds.

In-Stat estimates that hotspot usage will increase in 2009 by 47%, bringing total worldwide connects to 1.2 billion.

Wi-Fi-enabled entertainment device, such as cameras, gaming devices, and personal digital media players (PMPs) shipments will increase from 108.8 million in 2009 to 177.3 million in 2013, the market research firm claims.

Tags: Wi-Fi

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