Shipments of mobile broadband-enabled consumer electronics are forecast to increase 55-fold between 2008 and 2014.
This market - which includes eBook readers, mobile digital cameras and camcorders, personal media players (PMPs), personal navigation devices (PNDs), and mobile gaming devices - will see total shipments reach 58 million in 2014.
According to ABI Research senior analyst Jeff Orr: "While demand for products in the other categories is just starting to ramp up, consumers are already snapping up connected PNDs and eBook readers in numbers, and will continue to do so."
Some of these devices have featured Wi-Fi for some time. But, says Orr: "When you embed a cellular or mobile broadband modem in a device, it becomes tied to a particular operator's service billing. That changes the device vendors' business model dramatically."
In the case of eBook readers, the model in which the price of the connection is built into the price of the content seems to be acceptable to consumers.
Paying each time you download a piece of content works for this supply chain.
But, says Orr: "In the case of a multiplayer game, for example, questions arise: paying to download the game is straightforward, but beyond that what's the appropriate model? Monthly subscription? Annual pass? Whom does the consumer pay? That very unfamiliar service aspect is scary for the device vendors."
Some uptake of these devices can be attributed to vertical industries: think of vehicle fleets and taxis with connected PNDs, which are popular in Western Europe.
The various possible business models for delivering content and interactivity to these devices also hinge on one make-or-break factor: the cost of a data plan.
With the exception of the eBook readers, says Orr: "The models being used for mobile data connectivity today are poorly matched to the kinds of mobile CE devices available, and we discuss alternatives in our report ["Mobile Broadband-Enabled Consumer Electronics"] on this subject."