Smart phones are coming
June 9, 1999
by Matt Hamblen
(IDG) -- The handhelds are coming.
Information technology managers everywhere are already cursing the number of handhelds brought in the backdoor by users. And they're rushing to find ways to make the devices more useful to their operations and easier to support.
But two separate market projections released this week show tremendous growth in handheld and smart phone sales, which analysts say will require unprepared IT managers to get a better handle on the situation.
Dataquest, a division of Gartner Group Inc. in San Jose, put worldwide sales of handheld computers at 21 million in 2003, up from nearly 4 million last year.
Meanwhile, International Data Corp. (IDC), a sister company to Computerworld in Framingham, Mass., projected that nearly 19 million handheld computers will sell in 2003, up from 4.3 million last year.
And IDC released a separate study that says 654,000 smart phones sold worldwide in 1998 and that sales are expected to reach 12.9 million units in 2003. IDC defines a smart phone as a data-enabled cellular phone that allows Web browsing and e-mail access, data manipulation and use of personal information manager (PIM) software.
Handhelds generally are defined to include personal companions like the PalmPilot from Palm Computing Inc., a 3Com Corp. company, and PC companions with keyboards, which include a wide variety of Windows CE machines sold by many vendors.
Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Group in Stamford, Conn., said the market projections point out that IT "needs to keep on top of the handheld and smart phone phenomenon because we clearly don't know where it's going yet."
Added House: "Companies are going to need a strategy to deal with these."
"The real story is smart phones," Dulaney said. "They will dwarf handhelds because so many people already carry a cellular phone." About 200 million cellular phones are in use today. He predicts three times as many smart phones will sell in 2003 than handhelds, though Dataquest hasn't done any smart-phone projections, a spokeswoman said.
Making a handheld computer, such as the Palm VII, into a wireless data browsing device, is much more complicated than adding the relatively simple functions of a PIM to a wireless phone, Dulaney said.
Will your next PC be a cell phone?
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