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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wi-Fi/VoIP iPod could attract 100m users

The new 'killer converged entertainment device'

Robert Jaques, vnunet.com 23 May 2006

Apple could create a "killer converged entertainment device" by adding Wi-Fi functionality to its iPod digital media players that could attract 100 million users by 2011, an analyst firm claimed today.

A new study from ON World suggests that consumer devices such as iPods with integrated Wi-Fi and VoIP will become the preferred way of accessing internet services in the future.

Over the next five years, the PC industry is expected to drive the consumer mobile VoIP market with its growing "real-time internet" telecoms network of services, devices and infrastructure.

"The PC industry has found an ideal services model and this is the 'real-time internet'," said Mareca Hatler, director of research at ON World.

"Services such as VoIP, video, music, radio, news and instant messaging, coupled with mobile devices such as a Wi-Fi enabled iPod and the ubiquity of broadband, will result in 100 million consumer mobile VoIP users in 2011."

The PC industry will ship more than twice as many mobile VoIP devices per year as the telecoms industry in 2011, the ON World study estimated.

"Convergence between the PC and telecoms industries has been the 'mantra' for several years. Skype, Google, Apple and municipal mesh infrastructure providers such as Tropos are creating the 'real time internet' without them," explained Hatler.

The analyst firm predicts that Wi-Fi enabled mobile entertainment devices will make up 36 per cent of all mobile VoIP devices sold in 2011.

This will be driven by the popularity of Apple's iPod as well as products such as Nokia's Internet Tablet 2006 bundled with services such as GoogleTalk.

ON World predicts that by 2011 Skype will have 25 per cent of the world's VoIP users and $1.2bn in voice services revenues.

The report was based on interviews with electronics retailers and 100 "key technology influencers" in several consumer markets.

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