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385 million ultra-mobile devices to ship in 2014

Diversity of devices to continue

The Ultra Mobile Device market will grow to a 385 million unit size in 2014. The diversity of form factors and device types we see today will likely continue as vendors look to meet each audience's unique preferences.

The Ultra Mobile Device (UMD) market includes shipments of UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs), netbooks, MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) and mobile consumer electronics devices combined.

"Consumers and business buyers are only recently accustomed to the netbook feature set," says senior ABI Rsearch analyst Jeff Orr.

"Regardless of vendor, the majority of today's netbooks ship with Intel processors and Windows XP into developed markets."

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As uptake continues, developing markets will become the larger opportunity leveraging both ARM-based processors and Linux operating systems.

The premium netbook category will also be established, offering larger screens and greater choices in connectivity solutions.

Apple Tablet image

Given little distinction today in feature-set and a relatively small price band, brands are differentiating themselves on aesthetics and build quality - a market that the much-rumoured Apple Tablet is likely to ramp up.

Pocketable MIDs remain a far more interesting product segment to watch, says Orr, as the market is still emerging.

While 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."

One can also expect the line distinguishing MIDs from smartphones to blur as MIDs add voice: Nokia has equipped its latest "Internet Tablet," the model N900, with cellular voice capabilities, for example.

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