Technological proliferations and rising demand for high-speed Internet are expected to drive the global WLAN IC market over the forecast period. The industry has also been witnessing technology convergence in WLAN ICs. In addition, the increasing demand for Wi-Fi in consumer electronics and the concept of Internet of Things (IoT) has fueled the demand for such advanced technology. The concept of IoT has started making inroads into the market and is projected to be a lucrative sector. IoT helps in connecting every possible device over to the Internet and has enabled enhanced connectivity within devices. Everyday consumer electronics are now connected via Internet for highest efficiency and ease-of-operation. One major growth area is the connected home, particularly, the increasingly popular connected TV. Although wired connections are used in many cases, Wi-Fi connections are gaining popularity for Internet access in connected TVs. Moreover, the forthcoming advanced Wi-Fi display specification or Miracast is expected to boost the Wi-Fi installation rates in the connected homes for consumers that embrace such advanced technology. Moreover, recent developments in System-on-Chip (SoC) and embedded technology advancements have led to the escalation in demand for such advanced communication infrastructure. Emerging global trend of smart-homes, intelligent & connected living rooms has led to the increased use of these applications for this technology.
The industry is undergoing major changes both in terms of the technological proliferation from 11n version to MIMO and from Wi-Fi Direct to Miracast, and also in the way these are delivered as integrated chipset solutions. The industry observes a varied and a distinct range of suppliers from large broad-line semiconductor vendors to specific demand-focused vendors. Intersil Corporation has entered a new wireless local-area networking chip market with a product designed for the emerging 5 GHz broadband standard, which enables data transfers at speeds up to 54-megabits-per-second over a wireless network.
Initially, the WLAN ICs were utilized in Wi-Fi aggregation equipment such as access points and wireless Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) routers and Wi-Fi clients and WLAN NICs that are used in various types of PCs. However, these components are now going towards extensive application of consumer electronic devices due to the commercialization of IoT and Wi-Fi IP telephony applications. However, the complexity of such advanced WLAN ICs could pose as a challenge to the growth of this industry. Additionally, unmet needs & issues in technology platforms, intellectual property, licensing of trademarked technologies, and increasing manufacturing costs with development of complex embedded chipsets are expected to hamper the demand over the next seven years.
Geographically, the market is expected to gain traction in the North American regional market owing to accelerated demand for smartphones and other Internet-enabled consumer electronics. The industry is highly concentrated and quite intense in the developed regions. High disposable incomes among the population in countries such as the U.S. and Canada have propelled the demand for these advanced devices in the North American regional demands. Moreover, the industry is expected to gain prominence in the Asia Pacific region. Presence of emerging economies such as India and China promises much of the future growth owing to accelerated demand for such advanced communication devices and solutions.
The industry observes extensive mergers and acquisitions to acquire the maximum industry share. In 2011, Qualcomm acquired Atheros to become one of the major shareholders in the industry. Atheros’ relationships with large WLAN technology ODMs and OEMs and Qualcomm’s share in the cellular market, the company has enabled the company to significantly boost shipment volume and market share. These suppliers have increasingly relied on smartphones and laptop manufacturers to improve revenues along with newer industry segments such as connected TVs. Vendors that are already successful in the smartphones industry are expected to have an advantage in the connected and smart TV segment as there is important synergy between the wireless connectivity and the applications processor requirements.
Major industry players include Broadcom Corporation, Cambridge Silicon Radio, Intel Corporation, Intersil Corporation, Marvell Semiconductor Inc., MediaTek Inc., Qualcomm Atheros Inc, RDA Microelectronics, Realtek Semiconductor Corporation, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments.
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