Amimon: 1M Wireless HD Chip Sales in 2009

Semiconductor company Amimon, which announced last week it had sold 100,000 of its chips for wireless HD video, is planning for even bigger sales in 2009, when it hopes the completion of a new wireless HD standard based on its technology will push sales to the 1 million mark.

Currently, there are “tens of thousands of high-definition sets” using Amimon’s chips in the market, according to Noam Geri, vice president of marketing and business development at the company.

With the 100,000 chip milestone, Amimon has taken an early lead among several competing technologies for delivering HD content wirelessly to multiple devices.

This summer, Sony, Samsung, Sharp, Hitachi, Motorola and Amimon set up a group to develop a new standard — Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) — based on Amimon’s technology that will allow HD content to be moved wirelessly around the house between TVs, set-top boxes, PCs, Blu-ray players and other consumer electronic devises.

WHDI competes with two other wireless HD efforts: ultra-wideband (UWB) technology and the WirelessHD consortium, which is based on technology developed by SiBEAM, and backed by a number of consumer electronics companies.

“After 10 years of talking about delivering wireless HD TV, we’re the first to actually bring wireless HD TV to the market and into products and into consumer homes,” Geri said. “We have customers like Sony, Sharp and Mitsubishi that are shipping wireless HD products based on Amimon’s technology in Europe, Japan and the U.S. The 100,000 units that we’ve sold this year are about 100% of the market. Most of them have been sold in the last half of the year in preparation for the holiday season. It is a good start but we expect it will grow rapidly in 2009.”

Geri admits that the technology has penetrated only a small portion of what he calls “the 100 million TV set market.”

To make further inroads and achieve the 1 million-unit goal, which would translate into chip sets for about 500,000 HD TV, Geri said unit prices for chips will have be significantly reduced.

Prices have already fallen about 50% in the last six months to about $50 per unit and he expects them to fall further in 2009. “Around CES [the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January] we expect to announce some milestones with the standardization of WHDI,” he said.

Once the standard is completed in early 2009, Geri expects demand to increase dramatically because it will “enable interoperability between the vendors.”

He said to obtain mass deployment of the technology, chips will have to fall to as little as $10. To achieve that, WHDI will be able to maintain its early lead over competing technologies.

Geri said WHDI currently has a major competitive advantage over UWB and technologies backed by The Wireless HD consortium because they only work within a single room and do not allow that content to be moved around the house to multiple rooms.

“Unlike the other solutions, WHDI is not a cable replacement technology,” Geri said. “It has 100 feet of range and can cover pretty much the whole home. It can go through two, three even four walls and work with any display. Eliminating the cable in one room may have some value but WHDI has a much greater value because it will enable consumers to make new connections between devices you couldn’t achieve otherwise and give them the freedom to move HD content throughout the home.”

The economy remains the wild card. So far Amimon chips have been mainly used in HD sets priced between $4,000 to $5,000 range and those high-end sets have been relatively unaffected by the economic downturn, he said.

Even so, “the economy has the potential to slow down growth,” Geri admitted. “Our goal is to get from tens of thousands of HD TVs to tens of millions. The economy will determine how fast we get there.”