That's a whole lot of wireless going on in 2013 alone.
ABI Research said on Friday that the number of standards-based wireless connectivity chips shipped in 2013 will exceed 5 billion units. This number includes standalone Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, and ZigBee, as well as connectivity combo integrated circuits (ICs) and platform solutions.
According to the report, current market leader Broadcom is expected to continue its reign next year thanks to the growing connectivity combo IC market. These circuits aren't dedicated to just one connectivity option, but feature two or more technologies for increased performance, increased time-to-market and overall device real estate. These will continue to see strong shipment and revenue growth, the report states, particularly in high volume consumer markets such as laptops, tablets, and TVs.
"Platform solutions will see the strongest growth (from a smaller base) as these enable OEMs to achieve even faster time to market in very competitive areas such as low-end smartphones," ABI Research reports.
Qualcomm will reportedly see even more growth in 2013 due to the increased popularity of its Snapdragon SoCs in the smartphone and tablet market. Its latest Snapdragon S4 is offered in four flavors – S4Play, S4Plus, S4Pro and S4Prime – spanning feature phones, smartphones, tablets and HDTVs. There's chips generally feature GPS in addition to integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. Snapdragon S4-based phones include the Google Nexus 4, the Nokia Lumia 920, 822, 820 and 810, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD, the HTC One S and many more.
In addition to the combo IC market, ABI Research said that standalone wireless connectivity ICs will continue to be very important as newer technologies such as Bluetooth Smart, WiGig, and NFC penetrate high volume applications. They're also expected to be adopted at an increasing rate in developing markets such as sports & fitness, automotive, and retail.
Peter Cooney, wireless connectivity practice director, said on Friday that several very important milestones will be achieved for the wireless connectivity market in the next few years.
"In 2013, cumulative shipments of Bluetooth-enabled devices will surpass 10 billion and Wi-Fi enabled devices will surpass 10 billion cumulative shipments in 2015," he said. "This clearly shows the level of penetration into the electronics market that wireless connectivity technologies have achieved, and there is a lot more to come as the consumers’ appetite for wire-free solutions will continue unabated."
For more information about the firm's latest findings, check out the Wireless Connectivity Database which features the "Wireless Connectivity Market Update – 4Q12" report, an article written by Cooney titled "Can Qualcomm or Broadcom Dominate the NFC Market?", and more.