Wi-Fi Chip Set Sales Soar

Driven by strong consumer and enterprise demand for a wide range of Wi-Fi-enabled devices from smartphones to netbooks, Wi-Fi chip set sales jumped 26 percent in 2008 to 387 million units shipped. Leading the surge were cell phones equipped with Wi-Fi followed closely by a wide array of consumer electronic devices such as handheld games, music players and cameras.

Not everyone out there is suffering through the recession. Sparked by strong consumer and enterprise demand for Wi-Fi-enabled devices, Wi-Fi chip set sales jumped 26 percent last year to 387 million, according to new statistics released Jan. 8 by the Wi-Fi Alliance and In-Stat.

Driving the chip set sales were cell phones loaded with Wi-Fi, which jumped 52 percent in 2008 to 56 million units shipped. Closely following Wi-Fi cell phones were consumer electronic devices with Wi-Fi with 48 million units, an increase of 51 percent. Portable consumer devices embedded with Wi-Fi such as handheld games, music players and cameras also jumped 33 percent to 71 million shipped units.

Laptop makers, which led the Wi-Fi charge several years ago, enjoyed a 23 percent jump in sales for machines with Wi-Fi-most notably netbooks-to push 144 million units out the factory door.

"Wi-Fi has solidified its position as an essential technology for the home and the enterprise in 2008, and we expect our strong growth trajectory to continue," Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, said in a statement. "Wi-Fi is a feature that users have come to expect in a wide array of products, and device makers are including Wi-Fi in everything from handsets to mininotebooks to media players."

For 2009, the Wi-Fi Alliance and In-Stat expect the Wi-Fi sales momentum to continue, driven primarily by cellular Wi-Fi handsets, portable consumer electronics, home networking and mobile PCs. Moreover, the 12 percent growth rate predicted in the mobile PC market will be driven by an uptake in netbooks, which all include Wi-Fi.

"Consumers are demanding connectivity at any time, in any place, and manufacturers are meeting the need with a variety of affordable devices, including the increasingly popular netbooks," Figueroa said. "Wi-Fi is a key feature in making these products so attractive."