WLAN sales red hot last year

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Wireless local area network (WLAN) equipment was hot in 2004 with 36.1 million units shipped globally, up 51 percent over 2003.

The figures were from research by US firm Infonetics.

However, Infonetics also said WLAN equipment revenue hit US$2.8 billion in 2004, only a 15 percent increase over 2003, and dropped 21 percent to US$619.4 million in the last quarter.

Infonetics attributed the revenue drop to price erosion in a fiercely competitive market and expected revenue falls to continue for several years.

However, the firm was confident WLAN equipment sales would continue to grow strongly. It expected some 80.4 million units to ship by 2008, up 123 percent over 2004.

Consumer spending on WLAN equipment, which Infonetics described as "explosive", was driving the growth. Consumers and small businesses accounted for 52 percent of revenues, with service provider and enterprise spending making up 48 percent.

Almost half of revenues from WLAN equipment sales came from North America, with Europe, the Middle East and Africa in second place with about a quarter of the market.

Infonetics directing analyst Richard Webb claimed the growth meant WLAN was going mainstream.

"Competition has increased, driving prices down and spurring on further innovation in the market as wireless LANs continue to gain acceptance," he said in a statement.

"The range of applications for wireless LANs is increasing and we see VoWLAN (voice over IP over wireless LANs) and RFID tagging in particular as two of the key applications driving the next phase of growth through 2005 and beyond."

Cisco was the world leader in WLAN equipment sales, with its Linksys subsidiary in a close second place. Together, the two companies commanded 32 percent of the market, with D-Link in third and Netgear in fourth place.


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