Dataquest: European PDA market stalls in Q2

The overall market for PDAs (personal digital assistants) in western Europe stalled out during Q2 of this year, according to a study by market researcher Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner Inc.

The handheld market increased by only 7.1 per cent from the year-ago quarter, compared to the 123 per cent growth the market saw during 2000, Dataquest said in a study released Thursday. The study wasn’t all doom and gloom however, as Casio Computer Co. Ltd. and Compaq Computer Corp. saw their shipments increase by more than 350 per cent and 600 per cent, respectively. Market leader Palm Inc. maintained the top spot with 32.3 per cent of the market, despite a 41.9 per cent decline in shipments, while Compaq came within passing distance, as its market share increased from 4.5 per cent to 30.2 per cent. U.K.-based handheld vendor Psion PLC fell into third place, with its market share dropping to 9.8 per cent, down from 18.2 per cent a year earlier, Dataquest said.

Open-source debate rages

Despite recent changes to Microsoft Corp.’s licensing strategy for some software, the debate between commercial software developers and the open-source community continued to rage, as top executives from Microsoft and Red Hat Inc. met at a recent industry conference.

Craig Mundie, senior vice-president at Microsoft, echoed his company’s long-standing claims that commercial software is but one choice in a large software ecosystem driven by customers, vendors, academia and the government, during his opening remarks at the O’Reilly Open Source conference in San Diego. Mundie contended that open source is a valued part of the software economy, but is not an approach his company will fully embrace any time soon. Mundie’s comments were deflected by Michael Tiemann, chief technology officer at Red Hat, who said that Microsoft’s claims are a ruse to hide the company’s dominance and control over choice in the software market.

3G expectations need to be lowered: Intel

Consumers dreaming of exotic 3G (third-generation) services delivered to their mobile phones may want to put those thoughts on hold. Telecommunication companies and equipment vendors have over-hyped the capabilities of 3G mobile technology and need to set about readjusting market expectations as roll-out plans for 3G networks slow down, according to Intel Corp. president and CEO Craig Barrett.

While consumers have been led to expect the coming availability of high-end 3G services, GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), not 3G, will be the next generation of mobile technology that is widely deployed, Barrett said. GPRS is an upgrade to GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks that currently allows an increase in data-transmission speeds from 9.6Kbps to around 40Kbps, and is expected to eventually offer speeds above 100Kbps. By comparison, 3G is expected to ultimately offer wireless data transfer rates of up to 2 megabits per second.

Broadband lack makes media streaming a black art

The uptake of streaming media by corporations is on the increase, but a lack of broadband infrastructure and a fear of the transparency of the media is holding streaming media industry back in Australia, streaming media professionals have said.

Microsoft Corp. claims that one in four enterprise companies in the U.S. are using streaming media within the organization. Two-thirds of those run on the Windows Media platform. Peter Davidson, Microsoft Asia’s regional manager, digital media division, said he expected “the Australian market to follow the U.S. trend of an increasing use of streaming media in their day-to-day operations and communications.”

However, IT managers, facing the challenges of convincing executives to spend the money and implement the technology, find a lack of broadband infrastructure and a lack of tools have made companies resistant and uneasy because there is no return on investment in sight.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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