IDC: Japan smart handheld shipments rise in 2000

Shipments of smart handheld computers in Japan in 2000 increased 3.2 per cent on the year, according to data released Thursday by market research company International Data Corp. Japan (IDC). However, the relatively small increase masks the surging popularity of personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Total shipments of smart handheld devices, which includes PDAs, vertical application devices and smart phones, totalled 1.37 million during the year, said Michiko Ohishi, smart handheld devices research analyst with IDC Japan. Shipments of devices in the handheld companion sub-sector, which include all forms of PDA, jumped 20.2 per cent to 912,000 units.

“The big surprise was the rapid increase in the personal companion segment. A lot of products and players are coming into the market,” Ohishi said. This sector, a part of the handheld companion devices sub-sector, includes modern PDAs such as Windows CE and Palm operating system-based machines as well as Sharp’s latest Zaurus. The latter Zaurus M1-E1 and new products from companies like Handspring Inc. and Sony Corp., which joined the market during the year, helped push shipments up 38.1 per cent to 639,000 units.

“The big negative reason for the small total growth was the decrease of smart phones,” said Ohishi. Shipments of the devices, which include telephones such as Kyocera Corp.’s Datascope but not conventional wireless Internet cell phones, fell 71 per cent from 200,000 units to 58,000 units during the year. Shipments of handheld computers for specific vertical markets also leveled off, she said.

The Palm OS was market leader at the end of the year with a market share of 45 per cent. Sharp’s proprietary Zaurus OS followed with a 36 per cent market share and Windows CE came in with 10 per cent. This year several companies, including Sharp, are promising to produce handheld devices based on the open-source Linux operating system.

The strong growth in handheld computer shipments mirrors that of their close cousins – sub-notebook personal computers – that led the overall PC market growth in 2000, according to data released earlier this week by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA).

In its annual report, JEITA said 2000 marked the first time notebook shipments beat those of desktop PCs and noted that sub-notebook shipments were particularly strong at 1.4 million units, an increase of 48 per cent on the year.

IDC is a division of International Data Group Inc. (IDG), the parent company of IDG News Service.

IDC, based in Framingham, Mass., can be reached at