IDC Survey Finds Handhelds Are Making Their Way to the Mainstream

FRAMINGHAM, MASS., FEBRUARY 28, 2000 — Not long ago, handheld devices were found solely in the hands of affluent men working in the technology profession. However, a new survey by IDC reveals use of these devices is beginning to trickle beyond those boundaries. IDC found users in the legal, healthcare, manufacturing, government, and education professions.

"Industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and education make good target markets because they are largely familiar with the use of handhelds," said Jill House, an analyst with IDC's Smart Handheld Devices research program. "In addition, these markets are consistently constrained by resources so they are looking to deploy lower-cost devices in their environments."

Another major finding is the shift in preferred purchase channels for handhelds. In 1997 and 1998, the most popular channels were computer product superstores and mail-order catalogs. In 1999, however, the leading channels for handheld purchases were manufacturer direct — either through their sales rep, 800 number, or Web site — and third-party Web sites. IDC attributes the shift to several factors, including the increase in PC companion sales, less need for product education, the need for total solution sales, and Web hype. The number-one factor accounting for the shift, however, is cost savings.

"The Web and direct channels offer better prices," House said. "This alone probably accounts for the majority of the channel movement."

Other key findings include the following:

— Hewlett-Packard is the number-one vendor for both current and potential PC companion users.

— Approximately 70% or more of handheld usage is for business purposes.

— Bluetooth was mentioned as a preferred means of file synchronization for handheld companions.

IDC's new report, U.S. Customer Directions and Buying Behavior: The 1999 Smart Handheld Devices Survey (IDC #B21364), analyzes the buying intentions and usage patterns of current handheld users and potential purchasers. The information in the report is based on an IDC survey of 593 business respondents. Hardware feature and functionality preferences, application importance, mobility demographics, buying intentions, and usage patterns are all discussed. To order a copy of the report, contact Patrick Steeves at 1-800-343-4952, ext. 6787 or at

About IDC

IDC delivers dependable, relevant, and high-impact data and insight on information technology to help organizations make sound business and technology decisions. IDC forecasts worldwide IT markets and technology trends and analyzes IT products and vendors, using a combination of rigorous primary research and in-depth competitive analysis. IDC is committed to providing global research with local content through more than 500 analysts in 43 countries worldwide. IDC's customers comprise the world's leading IT suppliers, IT organizations, and the financial community. Additional information can be found at

IDC is a division of International Data Group, the world's leading IT media, research, and exposition company.

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