WLAN sales to jump 90 percent in 2004

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Research firm IDC has released new figures predicting the Australian market for WLAN-related products to grow 90 percent this year to $43 million, fuelled by a 120 percent leap in sales to consumers.

Susana Vidal, telecommunications analyst at IDC, said that the consumer market accounted for less than a quarter of WLAN-related sales in Australia. However, that small base was expected to grow 120 percent this year, propelling WLAN market growth overall to $43 million.

“Enterprise [sales] are still going to grow pretty strongly this year, because we're going to see the financial and manufacturing sectors [taking on WLAN] this year,” she said. “WLAN in business is going to grow faster from next year.”

Ratification of the 802.11i security standard for WLAN would likely boost sales of products such as wireless routers, switches, access points and bridges from next year. A lot of new 802.11i gear would probably appear on the market around September, Vidal said.

Consumer WLAN was “very linked” to broadband takeup, which was growing “quite strongly” this year, she noted.

Broadband had already dug a deeper handhold in the SMB market and in the enterprise so WLAN product purchase was not likely to accelerate past consumer sales until next year, Vidal said.

Meanwhile, the growing popularity of technologies loosely defined as characteristic of “the digital home” was expected to keep stimulating WLAN product sales for 2004, she said.

“It is hard to define,” Vidal said. “But people don't only have a PC anymore; they have a PDA or maybe one of those media adaptors and want to connect those up.”

Online gaming, file and media sharing, MP3 streaming and various other applications would likely boost home networking further this year, she said.

Netgear, Cisco and D-Link made up 60 percent of the total market, with Belkin running fourth. However, those market leaders were expected to make way for “enterprise-focused WLAN players” such as Proxim, Nortel and Symbol in the next two years, Vidal said.

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