The arrival of Windows CE devices and the success of personal companions will help push worldwide shipments of handheld devices up from 3.1 million units in 1996 to 5.5 million units in 1997, according to a report by International Data Corporation.
IDC splits handheld devices into three categories; smart phones, vertical application devices and handheld companions, a term that covers PC companions such as Windows CE-based machines, PDAs and personal companions, such as US Robotics' PalmPilot. Sales of handheld companions should rise to 3.6 million units worldwide in 1997, up from 2 million units in 1996.
The use of handheld devices is catching on most quickly in the sales and distribution divisions of companies of all sizes, with much of the growth stemming from US users, said Diana Hwang, an analyst with IDC.
There are some regional differences in the rates at which sales of the various handheld devices are rising and which technologies are being adopted. PC companions are catching on more slowly in Europe than in the US, Hwang said.sales of PC companions in Western Europe and Asia, however, look set to lead in the adoption of smart phones such as the Nokia 9000, partly because the two regions were early in building a wireless infrastructure. IDC expects shipments of smart phones to reach 8.8 million units by 2001, according to the report, The Worldwide Smart Handheld Devices Market Forecast, 1997-2001.
As for vertical application devices, which include pen-based systems, IDC expects 1.3 million units to ship in 1997, a rise of 22.7 per cent from 1996.