Wifi-cellular gadgets a go go

Crystal ball gazers at In-Stat said Wednesday that almost half of US early adopters want their phones to include WLAN capability when they next upgrade.

“In the years ahead, dual-mode VoIP-capable phone systems will have increasing competition from other technologies, like femtocells for cellular coverage, but widespread wif deployment and the variety of wifi/cellular handsets offers wifi/cellular based systems a significant head start in the market,” said Allen Nogee, In-Stat principal analyst.

“Other technologies, such as WiMAX and Ultra Wideband, are also poised to enter the handset market, but wifi fills a unique niche that WiMAX and UWB cannot match,” he said.

Already, there is no shortage of WLAN gadgets – it’s becoming a standard feature of smartphones, as the cost of incorporating a WLAN radio has fallen to around $5 per device. Unsurprisingly, there is a surge in handset availability underway, taking advantage of this plunge in prices. By the end of this year, In-Stat claims, the total number of gadgets certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance will reach 100.

Many of those, so far including all the Nokia S60 devices and top-of-the-range Sony Ericssons, also pack a SIP Voice-over-IP client. According to In-Stat, by 2011 there will at least 50 million SIP-capable WLAN devices in the wild.

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