Smaller than a notebook computer with a larger screen than a Smartphone – this is how the authors of research into Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) define them.
Consumers may still be relatively unaware of this emerging class of device, but that’s unlikely to be the case for long.
Global sales of MIDs expected to leap from 305,000 units shipped in 2008 to a projected 40 million in 2012, generating USD12 billion in revenue.
At least that’s the conclusion of a survey by semiconductor analysts Forward Concepts, which examined the market potential for MIDs and provided forecasts for both the devices and the integrated circuits that enable them.
It says that MIDs will have an unprecedented level of multimedia capabilities and typically will come in a tablet-like form factor.
“In our opinion, MIDs are not designed to replace mobile phones (or Smartphones) but to be used as companion devices,” the report states.
“They will rival notebook computers in features and capabilities yet come in a significantly smaller, lighter, fit-into-your-coat-pocket form factor, thus spurring the birth of a whole new class of mobile multimedia devices that fall in between a Smartphone and notebook/tablet computer.”
Titled Strategies & Insight into the Emerging Class of Mobile Internet/Multimedia Devices, the study says MIDs represent a new class of mobile communications and lifestyle devices.
Their hardware, software and form factor will require design from the ground up in order to meet market requirements for features, price, performance, and power requirements.
“The user interface will be key to success and will likely need to be capable of responding not only to touch-based inputs but also keep pace with other evolving input methods such as ones based on motion, gesture, placement, and so on,” the report continues.
“Although Apple’s 3G iPhone ploughs new ground in internet access, user interaction and utility, we don’t consider it to be a MID, since we believe a true MID also requires a larger (4- to 6-inch) screen with higher resolution (VGA), TV out and optional Mobile TV capabilities.”
Integrated circuits for MIDs are forecast to grow from USD 29 million in 2008 to USD 2.6 billion in 2012, with Texas Instruments and Qualcomm described by the survey as being the two best-positioned non-X86 semiconductor vendors for supplying stand-alone applications processors for all classes of MIDs.
It says Intel has a much better shot at UMPCs, being predominantly an enterprise play, where x86 compatibility is important, and with battery life expectations in line with notebooks.