Although the much-heralded IEEE 802.11n WLAN standard is probably a good year away from formal ratification, end-products based on Draft 1.0 of the standard were released from a handful of vendors in 2Q06. Approximately 300 thousand total Draft n routers, clients and access points shipped out from home and SMB networking specialists Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, Buffalo and Belkin.
“Buyers of these Draft n products are early adopters willing to pay two to three times the price of standard 802.11g products,” commented In-Stat Analyst Victoria Fodale. “In-Stat expects the transition to 802.11n will be bumpier than that from 802.11b to 802.11g; comparatively, during the first quarter that In-Stat started tracking shipments of 802.11g products, in 1Q03, shipments totaled 900 thousand 802.11g units. Additionally, 2Q is typically a slow quarter, and it will be interesting to see how vendors position Draft n products within their traditional 3Q back-to-school and holiday promotions.”
On the 802.11n chipset side, Draft n chipsets from Atheros, Broadcom and Marvell are powering Draft n end-products. Additionally, Intel is set to release its Kedron 802.11n wireless module within its Santa Rosa mobile platform in early 2007, even though the standard will not be ratified by then. Consequently, there is much pressure on Task Group N within the IEEE 802.11 Working Group to come up with a more solid standard to put PC OEMs more at ease with the thought of embedding Draft n solutions into mobile PCs.
“Although we expect Draft n/802.11n chipsets to be only 3.6 percent of total WLAN chipset shipments for 2006, In-Stat expects this percentage to grow to almost 20 percent in 2007,” said In-Stat Senior Analyst Gemma Tedesco. “Although 802.11g will remain strong in some segments, such as in Portable Consumer Electronics devices, over the next three to four years, 802.11n is the future and eventually all product segments will shift to this standard.”
Recent research by In-Stat found the following:
- The ratio of Draft n wireless routers to clients is practically one to one, as users realize they must purchase both products to capitalize on the full coverage and throughput potential.
- Pre-n products such as Netgear’s MIMO G products experienced healthy growth over the quarter; these products have benefited from the positive press they have received around performance, and typically have ASPs that are 30-40% lower than those of Draft n products.
- On the IC side, Taiwanese WLAN IC provider Airoha announced Draft n RF transceiver solutions in July. WLAN MIMO pioneer Airgo is expected to release a Draft n chipset once the standard is more solid, along with Israel-based Metalink. Taiwanese WLAN chipset vendor Ralink is expected to release a Draft n chipset by the end of 2006.
The recent In-Stat research, “802.11n: Great Wireless LAN Expectations” (#IN0602859WS), covers the market for Draft n/802.11n chipsets. It offers detailed forecasts of WLAN chipsets by technology standard, with a focus on Draft n/802.11n uptake. It also provides vendor and product matrices and information on end-products and chipsets. The price is $3,495.
In-Stat’s soon to be published 2Q06 WLAN Quarterly provides detailed WLAN end-product market shares by technology and form factor. It will be priced at $2,995.
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