Psion and Hewlett-Packard will suffer at the hands of Windows CE this year, according to researcher the Gartner Group.
In a research note, Windows CE Palmtops - to buy or not to buy, Gartner predicts that Windows CE vendors will seriously hurt the more established handheld manufacturers such as Psion and Hewlett-Packard.
Compaq and Philips will emerge as the main winners in the Windows CE market in 1997, predicts Gartner. It also anticipates that the use of Windows CE handhelds in PIM (Personal Information Manager) applications will begin to mature by the end of the year.
According to Gartner, only US Robotics' PalmPilot will survive in the handheld market with any appreciable volume, due to its "strong vision for functionality in this area".
In a separate report, Dataquest said shipments worldwide in the handheld market surged 29% last year. Psion had a successful 1996 with a 35% increase in sales, the report said, although HP suffered a slow year with a modest 7% increase.
US Robotics dominated the market in 1996 with what Dataquest described as a "dramatic" entrance, gaining 24% market share with PalmPilot.
Dataquest forecasts the handheld market will grow rapidly over the next few years, rising to over seven million units worldwide in 2001.
But Dataquest appeared less enamoured with Windows CE than Gartner.
Mike McGuire, senior analyst in Dataquest's mobile computing programme, commented: "We feel that the first Windows CE handhelds, while reasonable first products, will not generate significant unit volumes but will help the market in terms of providing another plateau in the evolution of the handheld market."
Psion doubts Windows CE will be as successful as some analysts are predicting.
In its 'Psion Charter' statement, it says: "The Microsoft approach does not fully take into account the requirements of mobile users and is fundamentally flawed."
The sales predictions for Windows CE comes as something of a surprise.
Not long ago, industry watchers were doubting whether such devices would take off because of their limited functionality. It's interesting to note how quickly they've changed their tune.
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