IDC Declares: Post-PC Era Starts Now

The post-PC era is coming straight at you, says the latest report from International Data Corporation (IDC). The report, Review and Forecast of the Worldwide Information Appliance Market, 1999-2004, focuses on the rapidly growing information-appliance market. Information appliances are computers dedicated to one purpose—accessing information via the Internet. IDC predicts that information-appliance shipments will exceed consumer PC shipments by 2002, and that by 2004, the information-appliance market will reach $17.8 billion. The category is far larger than simply dedicated Web browsers. IDC defines information appliances as "Digital consumer electronics that provide low-cost, easy-to-use, consumer-focused access to the features and benefits of the Internet. IDC's information-appliance taxonomy includes shipments of Internet gaming consoles, NetTVs, Internet smart handheld devices, Web terminals, email terminals, and screen phones." IDC's information-appliance category includes devices such as Sega's Dreamcast, a gaming console that includes Web access capability. Some analysts have declared Dreamcast, which retails for about $200, to be the first truly low-cost Internet-capable hardware. Most items that fall under the information-appliance tag are similarly low-priced. Kevin Hause, IDC's manager for consumer devices research, explained that the first information appliances that IDC expects to gain popularity are those that look and feel like other familiar appliances. "The devices that will lead the information-appliance market are ones that take advantage of existing infrastructures and usage patterns," said Hause. "Devices such as NetTV set-top boxes as well as Internet gaming consoles will benefit from consumers' familiarity with the television. Internet connectivity is also making inroads into the increasingly popular, smart handheld-device market." IDC predicts that less traditional appliances, such as dedicated Web terminals and screen phones, will come in the second wave of information-appliance adoption. IDC estimates that the 1999 information-appliance market shipped about 11 million units and pulled in $2.4 billion. The company predicts that in 2004, the market will ship 89 million units and pull in $17.8 billion. The report, IDC #W21595, is available from IDC.

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