ABI Research expects shipments of mobile broadband-enabled consumer electronics 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.
“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,” ABI Research Senior Analyst Jeff Orr said in a statement discussing the firm’s new report on the topic.
Some of these devices have featured Wi-Fi for some time. But, Orr continued: “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, Orr said that other services could require different business models.
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 business models for delivering content and interactivity to these devices also hinge on one make-or-break factor: the cost of a data plan. Apart from eBook readers, Orr said that the mobile data connectivity models today “are poorly matched to the kinds of mobile CE devices available.”

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