Wireless Voice over IP (VoIP) handset sales totaled 113,000 units in 2004, with revenues of $45 million, according to a new report from Infonetics research. Moreover, "Wi-Fi Phones Annual Worldwide Market Size and Forecast" forecasts continued strong growth through 2009.
Although the report says that the Wi-Fi VoIP handset is currently quite small, Infonetics believes that they have great potential in a number of markets, particularly in enterprise computing, logistics and health care, where voice over wireless local area network technology already has a foothold. Infonetics characterizes the growth potential in the consumer market as "enormous" as service providers bundle wireless gateways and VoIP services in the consumer offerings.
The handset market will get an additional boost when dual-mode cellular/Wi-Fi handset prices come down. Although these products only became commercially available in the last quarter of last year, dual-mode handset sales totaled $6.6 million, representing more than 8,000 units sold, according to the report. Infonetics notes that this is an embryonic market and expects it to grow dramatically by 2009, as enterprises take advantage of the technology's flexibility.
Infonetics directing analyst and report Author Richard Webb expects Wi-Fi capability to become a standard cell phone feature before to long, noting that the technology will present challenges traditional telecommunications providers. "Voice over wireless Internet devices have the potential to be a hugely disruptive technology, too." he said in a statement. "One big factor is the low cost of calling, especially long distance, overseas, and during peak hours. The traditional model of time and distance-based pricing for voice calls will be eroded by VoIP, and as VoIP goes wireless, this will present a challenge not only to fixed line operators, but to mobile operators as well."