NEW YORK (
) -- One of the best things gadget makers can do is to take a class-leading existing product and regularly improve it on multiple fronts without taking a step backward anywhere.
has been brilliant at this with its various iterations of the iPhone, iPad and iPod.
But so has
In May 2009, Novatel launched its first MiFi wireless router, which allowed users to create mobile WiFi hotspots anywhere.
The compact product -- as big as few credit cards stacked together -- was an instant hit and reigned supreme in the market.
Then came the Android onslaught, led by the October 2009 launch of Droid phones from
[a joint venture of <b>Verizon Communications</b> <span class=" TICKERFLAT">(<a href="/quote/VZ.html">VZ</a> - <a href="http://secure2.thestreet.com/cap/prm.do?OID=028198&ticker=VZ">Get Report</a><a class=" arrow" href="/quote/VZ.html"><span class=" tickerChange" id="story_VZ"></span></a>)</span> and <b>Vodafone</b> <span class=" TICKERFLAT">(<a href="/quote/VOD.html">VOD</a><a class=" arrow" href="/quote/VOD.html"><span class=" tickerChange" id="story_VOD"></span></a>)</span>].
Many Android smartphones could function as mobile hotspots, and soon enough, Android's signature feature became almost synonymous with "mobile hotspot" on all carriers. This subsequently spread to all major smartphone platforms: iOS,
Research In Motion's
What seemed like a giant market opportunity in the summer of 2009 ended up looking a lot smaller after essentially every smartphone in the market gained the functionality.
But even though the market opportunity shrank, it didn't go away.
The world of mobile connectivity is arguably the world's largest device market.
The mobile device market -- now in the neighborhood of 2 billion devices per year -- is very diverse.
Some people now carry multiple devices: a BlackBerry for email, texting and address book management; and an iPhone, Android or Microsoft smartphone for the apps.
Those serious about connectivity are likely to add a dedicated mobile hotspot device to their arsenal, allowing them to feed their laptops, tablets and media players, such as the iPod Touch.
True, not everybody will spring for the dedicated device, but for the real pros, it's a sign of being, well, a real pro.
And that's where Novatel's third and latest iteration of the iconic MiFi (full name: Novatel Wireless 4G LTE Jetpack MiFi 4620L on Verizon Wireless) enters the picture.