You may still be getting your head around the acronyms for ultra-mobile devices (UMDs) but it seems that MID and UMPC will soon be tripping off our tongues.

The market for UMDs – a catch-all term that includes ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs), netbooks, and mobile Internet devices (MIDs) – is expected to grow rapidly, according to ABI Research.

Total revenues earned by vendors in the UMD market are expected to increase from USD $3.5 billion in 2008 to nearly USD $27 billion in 2013.

Philip Solis, principal analyst with ABI Research, said that while many UMD devices are currently used as “companions” to mobile phones that will quickly change.

“Cellular voice-enabled MIDs, in contrast, will be able to replace phones entirely; they will become the new high-end smartphones,” he said.

The ABI Research report said that over five years the distribution mix for UMDs will change significantly.

This year, retail sales account for only 14 per cent of shipments, while UMDs provided by mobile operators stand at nearly 30 per cent. The balance are sold directly by manufacturers.

Operators currently subsidize UMDs for the sake of their potential services revenue, but they would prefer not to.

By 2013, only 20 per cent will be operator-provided, while retail sales are expected to account for 75 per cent.

In 2013 more than half of all UMDs will have x86 processors at their heart (largely Intel’s Atom), with the balance based on ARM processors.

When it comes to operating systems, in 2013 Linux will outnumber Windows devices by two to one across all UMDs, despite the higher return rate for Linux products (compared to Windows products) experienced by netbook vendors today.

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