"The world production of mobile information devices (*) is expected to reach 6.36 million units in January through December 1999, a 111 percent increase over last year, according to a survey by Nikkei Market Access.
"Third quarter (July - September 1999) production showed a drastic 114 percent increase compared with the same period a year ago. However, since fourth quarter production last year followed a favorable trend, the rate of increase during the same period this year is not likely to surpass the rate recorded in the third quarter.
"The world's production in 2000 is expected to reach 8.46 million units, up 33 percent from the previous year, and will probably exceed 10 million units in 2001.
"The rapid growth of more than double the figure recorded during the previous year centers on portable data terminals carrying U.S. 3Com Corp.'s Palm OS. The production of this type of terminal accounts for a majority of the world production, or about 3.2 million units.
"Leading manufacturers such as Japan's Casio Computer Co., Ltd. and U.S.-based Compaq Computer Corp. started producing palm-sized Windows CE (palm-sized PC) machines in the latter half of 1998, but they are not vigorous enough to chase Palm products in volume. Units of palm-sized Windows CE terminals remain only a quarter of those of Palm OS terminals.
"Although Palms boast overwhelming worldwide strength in scale, sales in Japan are somewhat dull. Other palm-sized PCs are also slow in sales. Casio Computer, which has the world's top share in palm-sized PCs, produced more than 50,000 units in the third quarter of 1999, but most of them were destined for the U.S. market. In the domestic market, Sharp Corp.'s Zaurus, with its brand-name strength, does not enjoy the prosperity it once did.
"Instead, gaining power slowly but steadily in the domestic market are Windows CE (hand-held PCs) machines with a keyboard. Domestic shipments of hand-held PCs in 1999 are expected to be about 330,000 units, of which nearly 80 percent will be hand-held PCs complete with a keyboard.
"The popularity of hand-held PCs in Japan started with NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc.'s (NTT DoCoMo's) "Pocket Board," which first captured the hearts of female users as a PDA exclusively for e-mail use. This gave impetus to the increase in the number of users of hand-held PCs with a keyboard as e-mail terminals in the same way people use the Pocket Board.
"Domestic manufacturers plan to introduce hand-held PCs preinstalled with e-mail software that are entertaining sometime after the spring of 2000.
"(*) Mobile information devices in this article are defined as those with functions to connect with mobile phones, machines with a proprietary OS with communication functions and those mounted with Windows CE. PIMs, handy data terminals and terminals dedicated to e-mail functions, mobile telephones and notebook PCs are not included.