According to a new study from ABI Research, portable consumer electronics (such as digital cameras, media players, and portable game devices) are beginning to offer direct mobile broadband connections to the Internet. By 2012, annual shipments of such devices are expected to approach 50 million.
Two portable video players (Digital Cube’s iStationNetforce and Cowon’s Q5) offer 3G connections through add-on HSDPA modules. However, the connectivity is not seamlessly integrated. The first true device of this class, offering embedded HSDPA, is Samsung’s VLUU i70 digital camera. Not just a 7.2 megapixel camera, the i70 also shoots video, reads e-books, receives T-DMB television, plays MP3s and video, and allows the user to send or download photos and videos.
ABI Research expects portable game devices and media players to dominate this market. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform and Freescale’s MXC (Mobile Extreme Convergence platform) will help enable cellular-based devices, and a wide ecosystem of WiMAX semiconductor vendors will enable devices with embedded WiMAX.
According to ABI Research, WiMAX has more potential than cellular-based connections for devices because an IP-based network offers a simpler architecture and better connection to the Internet.