InStat sees predicts a billion Wi-Fi devices by 2012

Market research firm In-Stat is expecting a major surge in the number of consumer electronics devices with embedded Wi-Fi chips, predicting that nearly a billion such devices will ship in 2012.

Last year a respectable 294 million Wi-Fi embedded devices were shipped. Respectable, but a far cry from the 1 billion device prediction.

But the market is growing rapidly, according to In-Stat, particularly in the mobile handset sector. Handsets are on-track to replace PCs as the biggest category of Wi-Fi devices by 2011.

The market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26% per year for the next four years.

Factors driving is market surge include Wi-Fi hardware prices falling rapidly and battery life improving significantly.