Shipments of consumer-oriented 802.11n Wi-Fi access points are expected to see a dramatic increase over the next five years, rising from just 6 million this year to a forecast 88 million in 2013.
This rapid growth won’t reach full velocity from a standing start, however. According to ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt, “802.11n will become the default Wi-Fi technology of choice as equipment vendors include it in their new products. The real market growth will kick in when sufficient numbers of consumers have 802.11n capabilities embedded in their new laptop and desktop computers. We anticipate the greatest adoption to take place in the 2009-2010 timeframe.”
A similar pattern is expected in the enterprise: the rate at which companies replace their laptops. “You can achieve 802.11n connectivity with adapter cards,” says Schatt, “but most IT managers don’t like them because they can get lost or damaged.” Most enterprises work to a roughly three year laptop replacement cycle, but, Schatt believes, that cycle may be slightly longer in the current economic climate.
Successful vendors to the enterprise will be those with well-established channels selling to the early-adopting vertical sectors of education, healthcare, retail and manufacturing. Schatt suggests that, “While some larger organizations remain initially wary because ‘n’ is still a draft with ratification of the final standard expected next year, companies with workgroups that need 802.11n’s extra speed, range, and robustness may push ahead in a piecemeal fashion.” By the end of 2013, the enterprise component of 802.11n equipment sales will represent about 16% of the total market.
That said, Schatt also reports that many vendors seem pleasantly surprised by the speed of enterprise adoption that is taking place already, which he attributes to the reassurance provided by the Wi-Fi Alliance’s interoperability testing certification.
A new ABI Research study, IEEE 802.11n Update, Forecast, and Vendor Evaluation analyzes vendors’ differentiated value propositions and market positioning, and provides a detailed vendor matrix that identifies winners in several major product categories including, best channel, best value proposition, best innovation, best product implementation, and overall winner.
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