Study: Smart card use on the rise

Sales of smart cards soared in 2000, suggesting that users are taking to the computing devices that can be used to store data and transfer information between devices such as mobile phones, according to a study issued Monday.

Smart card makers worldwide shipped 628 million units in 2000, according to a study compiled by the U.K. office of research company Dataquest Inc. This total marked a 45 percent increase over 1999 and reflected a sharp increase in demand from mobile operators for SIM (subscriber identity module) cards.

Users have adopted SIM cards as a relatively easy way to move personal information between different devices. Phones can read the card to determine the user’s identity and some stored information, which can make life easier on consumers when upgrading to a new phone or switching between devices.

Companies have championed smart cards as a way for users to store different types of commonly used information in one place. While they have gained some popularity in Europe, they have yet to be widely used in the United States.

Two companies have been driving the market, attempting to encourage more extensive end user adoption. Luxembourg-based Gemplus SA and New York-based Schlumberger Ltd. accounted for 66.7 per cent of all cards shipped in 2000, according to Dataquest. The two companies should increase their market share lead in the coming year, Dataquest said.

Dataquest, a unit of Gartner Group Inc., in San Jose, Calif., can be reached at