Ultra-mobiles to surge past 300 million in 2014

Analyst firm ABI Research said it expects some 385 million ultra mobile devices, a category that includes handheld PCs and netbooks, to ship in 2014.

“Consumers and business buyers are only recently accustomed to the netbook feature set,” said senior analyst Jeff Orr. “Regardless of vendor, the majority of today’s netbooks ship with Intel processors and Windows XP into developed markets.”

As uptake continues, developing markets will become the larger market, buying machines with ARM-based processors and Linux operating systems. The premium netbook category will also be established, offering larger screens and greater choices in connectivity solutions. Given little distinction today in feature-set and a relatively small price band, brands are differentiating themselves on aesthetics and build quality, said ABI.
 
Pocketable mobile internet devices (MIDs) remain a far more interesting product segment to watch, said Orr, as the market is still emerging. Although the most common product design remains the tablet form, competing form factors such as models with slider keyboards, clamshells and touch-screen-only interfaces are gaining in popularity. “However, there is a danger that the MID market will disappear before it gets the chance to mature, as smartphones increase in popularity and mimic most if not all tasks performed by MIDs.”
 
The line distinguishing MIDs from smartphones will continue to blur as MIDs add voice. For example, Nokia has equipped its latest ‘internet tablet’, the model N900, with cellular voice capabilities.

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