The market for information appliances will take off quickly as manufacturers race to address the "post-PC era", according to market research firm, IDC.Information appliances are an emerging category of low-cost, easy-to-use digital consumer electronic devices such as games consoles, televisions, mobile phones and so-called smart handheld devices, that provide Internet access.
IDC predicts that the worldwide market for these products will exceed 89 million units, or $17.8 billion, in 2004 - up from 11 million units or $2.4 billion in 1999.
Bryan Ma, an analyst for IDC's consumer devices research Division, said: "As the Net becomes more tightly woven into everyday life, an increasing number of consumers will desire the applications and services it can provide." "Current online users want access to services in more locations and situations, while many other consumers desire Internet access without the inherent complexities of PCs. The PC will not be the only enabling device because both groups find information appliances a solution that can improve their lifestyle and work style," he added.
IDC forecasts that US unit shipments of consumer information appliances will outnumber those of consumer PCs by 2002.
Kevin Hause, manager of IDC's research division, said: "The devices that will lead the information appliance market are ones that take advantage of existing infrastructures and usage patterns." "Devices such as NetTV set-top boxes as well as Internet gaming consoles will benefit from consumers' familiarity with television. Internet connectivity is also making inroads into the increasingly popular smart handheld device market," he added.
IDC also predicted that other devices, including Web terminals, email terminals and screenphones, would follow when they become more mass market products.
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