More computers with built-in wireless capabilities were sold than add-on Wi-Fi cards in 2003, analysts said.

Apple's PowerBook and iBook range reflect the trend toward built-in wireless capabilities (802.11g, marketed by Apple as AirPort). Intel last year released its Centrino range of computers, which offer on-chip Wi-Fi access.

In-Stat/MDR analyst Norm Bogen said: "The Wi-Fi Mini PCI Card represented 49.1 per cent of the Wi-Fi adaptors shipped, and enabled most of the Wi-Fi mobile PCs in 2003.

Add-in PC Cards held 38.8 per cent of the market in 2003 - a dramatic reversal of 2002's 58.3 per cent market share in 2002. The analysts predict that built-in Wi-Fi capabilities will grow at an annual rate of over 66 per cent until 2008, when 226 million devices will ship.

After five years of growth since Wi-Fi became mainstream, the worldwide Wi-Fi hardware market (network infrastructure and adapters) finally surpassed $1.0 billion in quarterly revenues in 2003's fourth quarter.

55 per cent of 32.1 million notebooks shipped in 2003 had built-in Wi-Fi support.