2009 will see a total of 1.2 billion mobile devices shipped, including all categories of wireless devices such as mobile phones, MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices), netbooks, mobile consumer electronics products, and cellular modems.
Shipments of these devices will have nearly doubled in 2014 to a total of 2.25 billion, according to the latest data from ABI Research.
"The next five years will see a shift in the breakdown between types of mobile devices shipped," comments industry analyst Michael Morgan.
"Today, wireless handsets rule the roost, with other mobile devices accounting for only 40 million shipments and cellular modems only 60 million. While handset shipments did actually decrease between 2008 and 2009 due to the global recession, the other two segments in fact grew very aggressively.
"Handset sales are growing at only 4 percent, while cellular modem shipments are expected to grow by 40 percent annually, and ultra mobile devices by 67 percent. These newer categories represent very attractive market opportunities and new revenue streams for operators."
These developments put smartphones such as the Apple iPhone in direct competition with a variety of other device segments for consumer's dollars.
As Morgan says, "The convergence period for cellular communications is coming to an end, and now we're entering a period of divergence. For many devices the technology is already in place, it's just the business and billing models that need to be built."
This means that some handset vendors may need to seek a greater part of their business in the low cost and ultra-low cost segments, while MIDs and netbooks will have to better define their unique use cases and value propositions.
The same will apply to cellular modems, and operator subsidies will also have an important influence on the sale of these devices.