Ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) manufacturers need to add support for wide-area wireless networks in order for the devices to fulfill their full market potential, reports In-Stat. Embedding a wide-area wireless modem into devices addresses the frustration many users have with the spotty coverage of Wi-Fi, the high-tech market research firm says. However, supporting the multiple cellular protocols is difficult and costly.
“The challenge is which of the broadband options: WiMAX, EV-DO, HSPA, or LTE, will be most successful in a UMPC,” says Frank Dickson, Vice President, Mobile Internet group. “Each has pros and cons. There is no ‘best’ wide-area wireless technology.”
Recent research by In-Stat found the following:
* UMPCs will increasingly add support for wide-area wireless to supplement Wi-Fi. The connect rate for wide-area wireless will grow from 20% today to almost 50% by 2012.
* In-Stat’s end-user survey revealed that 44% of notebook PC users express frustration with coverage when using Wi-Fi, compared with just 15% using a cellular broadband service.
* Competitors are experimenting with business models and subsidies. AT&T Mobility and RadioShack recently initiated a consumer offer for a subsidized Acer Aspire UMPC coupled with a broadband service plan.
The research, “UMD Connectivity: Add 3G Cellular, WiMAX, Or Punt” (#IN0804126UMD), covers the worldwide market for ultra-mobile devices and wide-area connectivity.