Europe is lagging so far behind the US in the PC companion market, that some vendors are delaying product launches until the market picks up.
IBM, which this week launched its new Windows CE based Workpad PC companion in the US, said it would not be launching the product in Europe until "at least the end of the year" as the European market is "not ready" for products of this class.
The Workpad z50, described in the industry as a "Jupiter" class device, is larger than a handheld PC, but smaller and lighter than a laptop and with longer battery life, designed to be used as a "companion" to your PC.
Mario Brendo, IBM Workpad product marketing manager commented: "Studies from market researchers like IDC and Dataquest clearly show that the biggest market for these types of devices is in the US, even in the next two to three years."
He added: "What we have seen is that CE based PC companion devices will offer a big market opportunity in Europe, but it is lagging to start. Traditionally Europe is always more reluctant to transition, like GSM, there is a slow growth and then a boom. This is what we are expecting with CE based PC companions."
Alison Mckenzie, research manager at IDC in the UK agreed: "The US are more technologically advanced, we believe these products will advance more rapidly in the US. However, products such as smart phones will have higher adoption in Europe because GSM is a standard."
She continued: "PC companion prices are going to have to drop in price before they become mainstream in Europe."
Randy Giusto, director of mobile technologies at IDC in the US added, "This Jupiter class of device is primarily an enterprise sell and that too has been hard to fuel interest in in Europe."
"Europe lags behind the US in PC adoption alone, so to get PC companions adopted into the enterprise is twice as hard a sell - why buy a companion to a PC when you don't even have a PC?"
Giusto said that despite IBM's predictions that the US will be the biggest market for these devices, it will not be an easy job.
"The US vendors are having enough problems generating interest in this particular form factor in the US - devices only began shipping late last year, and in December, shipments only totalled around 20,000. There are issues of form factor confusion, market education, and solution sells, all of which need to be addressed, worldwide, for this product to do well."
In fact Europe may even have an advantage over the US in the market, Giusto added: "In a way, the European market has a slight edge. The continuing popularity of the Psion Series 5 has fuelled an interest in the general PC companion category, making market education less of an issue for Western Europe. People already know what a PC companion is and how to use it, which is a definite plus for vendors like IBM looking to enter this market down the road."
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