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Tech Industry

The Wi-Fi industry is doing fine, report says

Wi-Fi chipsets are on high demand despite the downturn of the economy.

The Wi-Fi interface of Apple's iPhone. Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive

Despite the economic downturn, the Wi-Fi section of the high-tech industry has been doing well.

According to In-Stat and Wi-Fi Alliance, the groups that certify wireless networking devices to ensure their interoperability, Wi-Fi chipsets were sold in a total of 387 million units in 2008, a 26 percent increase from 2007.

This was thanks to the demand by both consumers and businesses for a wide range of Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Almost all new mobile computers now have build-in Wi-Fi and so do most smartphones. The Wi-Fi implementation has branched out to other devices too, such as game consoles or media players. By now, it's clear that Wi-Fi has become an essential technology.

However, the increase of Wi-Fi chipset sales varies by category:

  • Cellular Wi-Fi phones: 56 million units shipped (up 52 percent)
  • Stationary consumer electronic devices (gaming consoles, digital televisions, set-top boxes, printers): 48 million units shipped (up 51 percent)
  • Portable consumer electronic devices (handheld games, cameras, portable music players): 71 million units shipped (up 33 percent)
  • Notebook PCs, mini notebooks, ultramobile devices, mobile Internet devices: 144 million units shipped (up 23 percent)

The companies predict that in 2009 the demand for Wi-Fi chipsets will continue to rise in cellular Wi-Fi handsets, portable consumer electronics, home networking, and mobile PCs. Like notebooks, all handheld gaming devices ship in 2009 will have Wi-Fi.

Last year also marks the proliferation of the 802.11n or Draft N wireless networking chipset. So far Wi-Fi Alliance has certified more than 500 consumer products for advanced Wi-Fi performance. More than half of the mobile computers shipped in 2008 support this advanced generation of Wi-Fi.