First Cable-Free Devices Will Not Deter Physical Ports for Foreseeable Future; USB-Type C and Thunderbolt 3.0 to Guide Industry toward Wireless Transition

07 Jun 2016

Almost half of the smartphones and 93% of laptops will include USB Type-C connectivity by 2020, according to a new study from ABI Research. The market will see fewer connectivity types and ports per device as the industry steadily transitions toward wireless solutions and cable-free devices.

“USB-Type C and Thunderbolt 3.0 will be the last major physical ports to gain major significance and mainstream traction before the transition to wireless alternatives,” says Andrew Zignani, Industry Analyst at ABI Research. “During this period, a number of devices will operate without any cabled connectivity, and while this will remain a nascent portion of the market for some time, the potential is there and heightening.”

802.11ad, also known as WiGig, already gained some traction in the laptop and docking space, currently enabled on some Dell, Acer, and Asus notebooks and docks shipping this year. ABI Research data suggests that the first, real mainstream opportunities for WiGig in access points, devices, and accessories will occur in late 2016. Thereafter, momentum is likely to build across other device categories, such as portable PCs and peripherals, smartphones, tablets, and displays.

Yet, a large portion of the market will not migrate toward cable-free devices in the short-term, such as high-performance categories and enterprise notebooks that require the ability to connect to different legacy infrastructures. Furthermore, wired and wireless connectivity solutions are not mutually exclusive and are, in many respects, complementary.

“We anticipate there to be WiGig-enabled devices that use physical cables, such as the USB-Type C for charging or to assist in dealing with legacy equipment when not at home or when wireless connectivity is not available,” concludes Zignani. “It will take some time for WiGig-enabled displays, projectors, televisions, and accessories to come to market, so many devices will still need to have the option of a physical connection through USB-Type C and Thunderbolt 3.0 for the foreseeable future.”

These findings are from ABI Research’s Device Connectivity Report. This report is part of the company’s Wireless Connectivity Service, which includes research reports, market data, insights, and competitive assessments.

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