A panel at Wi-Fi Planet agrees that products with the final (but not necessarily ratified) version of 802.11n will hit the market by 2006 second quarter: The panelists from Atheros and Airgo, cited in this story, expect that the 802.11n task group will narrow from four to two proposals shortly and that the final proposal will be selected by 2006. Pre-ratification products will hit the markets. At issue is whether patents for the two remaining standards will be available royalty-free or on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis (RAND).
One of the panelists noted a problem we discussed on this site some weeks ago: pre-N products aren't being guaranteed as eventually 802.11n compatible. This is precisely what happened to Texas Instruments 802.11b+ (802.11b with PBCC) which offered raw throughput of 22 Mbps and no upgrade path to 802.11g. Renasis managers called these pre-N products "disposable."