Tablets dominate ultra-mobile devices

An estimated 37 million ultra-mobile devices (UMDs) will ship in the United States during 2011 – with 75% of total shipments expected to be media tablets spearheaded by Apple’s iPad 2.

According to ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr, UMDs represent mobile computing devices on a continuum bordered by laptop PCs and smartphones.


The category can be further broken down into four primary segments: ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs), mobile Internet devices (MIDs), netbooks and media tablets.

“The revenue value from vendor shipments of UMDs into US sales and distribution channels during 2015 is forecast to top $24 billion,” Orr told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

“[And] while the near-term opportunity is all about media tablets, no UMD segment type has ever sustained a lead for longer than 36 months in any part of the world. Is the next device trend beyond media tablets just around the corner?”

Orr said UMDs are “well-positioned” inside the edges of the mobile device landscape, but emphasized that consumers are driven to newer form-factors on emotion and promises – and less on actual needs and business roles. 

“[As such], for UMDs in the US to take the PC or smartphone markets head-on, there needs to be a fundamental shift in buying behavior driven by lifestyle enhancements and workplace requirements.”

The analyst also noted that although netbooks continue to be an important segment, U.S. volumes are projected to steadily decline over the next five years from all-time highs of 9.9 million units shipped in 2010.  

“Netbook value will shift from highly competitive computing and mobile broadband markets, including the US, to countries where low computing and home broadband penetration offers the greatest potential for mobile computing,” he added.