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UMPCs, netbooks, and MIDs, oh my!

Nov 2, 2009 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 28 views

Shipments of Ultra-Mobile Devices (UMDs), including a range of emerging devices such as UMPCs (Ultra-Mobile PCs), netbooks, and MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices), are expected to grow to 385 million units annually within five years. Their main obstacle will be smartphones, such as the iPhone and various Android models.

In addition to these observations, ABI Research senior analyst Jeff Orr expects there to be a continuing diversity of UMD form-factors and device types, due to the need to satisfy a wide range of user requirements.

Representative devices: UMPC (Samsung Q1); netbook (Asus Eee PC); MID (Nokia N810)
(Click each image to enlarge)

Among the diverse set of MID device types, consumers and business buyers have recently become accustomed to the netbook feature set. While most of today’s netbooks are powered by Intel processors running Windows XP in developed markets, Orr sees a growth opportunity for ARM CPUs running Linux in developing markets. He also predicts the emergence of premium netbooks, characterized by larger screens and more diverse connectivity options.

“Pocketable MID” devices, meanwhile, remain a “far more interesting segment to watch,” adds Orr. While most existing products are tablet style devices, new models will include slider keyboards, clamshells, and touch-screen-only interfaces.

However, MIDs are at risk of being overshadowed by smartphones — such as the iPhone and newly introduced Android devices — which implement many MID-like features. Addiitonally, the distinction between MIDs and smartphones is being blurred due to introductions such as Nokia’s new N900, which adds cellular voice capabilities to the company’s venerable ‘Internet Tablet’ MID line, says Orr.

Orr’s comments are connected with ABI’s Netbooks, MIDs and Mobile CE Research Service.

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