Led by media tablets and more specifically Apple’s iPad 2, an estimated 37 million ultra-mobile devices (UMDs) will ship into the United States during 2011, according to ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com).
UMDs represent mobile computing devices on a continuum bordered by laptops and smartphones. The UMD category consists of four segments: ultra-mobile personal computers (UMPCs), mobile Internet devices (MIDs), netbooks, and media tablets.
The revenue value from vendor shipments of UMDs into US sales and distribution channels during 2015 is forecast to top US$24 billion, says ABI Research. About 75% of total UMD shipments in the US during 2011 are expected to be media tablets.
“While the near-term opportunity is all about media tablets, no UMD segment type has ever sustained a lead for longer than 36 months in any part of the world,” says ABI Research group director Jeff Orr. “Is the next device trend beyond media tablets just around the corner?”
Netbooks continue to be an important segment, though US volumes will steadily decline over the next five years from all-time highs of 9.9 million units shipped in 2010, he says. Netbook value will shift from highly competitive computing and mobile broadband markets, including the US, to countries where low computing and home broadband penetration offers the greatest potential for mobile computing. UMDs are well-positioned inside the edges of the mobile device landscape, though end-user audiences are driven to newer form-factors on emotion and promises and less on consumer needs and business roles, per ABI Research.
“For UMDs in the US to take the computer or smartphone markets head-on, there needs to be a fundamental shift in buying behavior driven by lifestyle enhancements and workplace requirements,” says Orr.