Colorful Growth in PDAs

Dynamic applications and increased availability are among the key drivers that could contribute to significant color display PDA growth, but power issues and high costs are likely to be major impediments.

The color PDA market could be poised for exploding growth if batteries are improved and costs are reduced by half. In-Stat/MDR forecasts that these improvements would mean that virtually all handset and PDA displays will be color by 2008, resulting in a revenue compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.6 percent between 2002 and 2006.

However, of the 35 million business and mainstream consumers that will own PDAs by 2006, according to Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent), less than one-quarter of respondents to a April 2002 survey felt a color display was important.

Jupiter found that long battery life ranks highest in importance among 58 percent of the 270 U.S. executives that were surveyed, supporting In-Stat/MDR.s prediction that battery life would be a potential barrier to the success of color displays since they consume more power than their black-and-white counterparts.

Other factors in order of importance to Jupiter.s respondents: brand-name vendor (36 percent); large display (29 percent); best value (28 percent); small size (27 percent); expansion capability (26 percent); color display (24 percent); installed user base (19 percent); one-hand use (15 percent); voice capability (15 percent); none (5 percent); and other (2 percent).

In-Stat/MDR also cites the considerable cost difference between color and monochrome as an obstacle to widespread adoption. Monochrome displays, with assembled backlights, can range from US$7.00-$12.00, while their color counterparts are typically US$56.00-$72.00. While a considerable percentage of this differential results from the backlight, which can require high-voltage vacuum fluorescent lighting, the displays themselves are much more complex to manufacture. While Japanese and Korean subscribers are lining up to replace their monochrome handsets, it remains to be seen if the majority of the world’s subscribers will follow suit.

“For many manufacturers, unfortunately, the road to prosperity will have a few speed bumps,” says Ray Jodoin, director of wireless research with In-Stat/MDR. “Today, Asian manufacturers are using their color display expertise, and manufacturing capacity, to introduce devices at a dizzying pace. The only question is whether there is enough short-term capacity to fill the initial demand, which currently exceeds 1 million color displays per month in Japan alone.”

Further evidence of the burgeoning color display PDA market is demonstrated by an online survey conducted by Mobile & Wireless Solutions in August 2002 indicating that 72 percent of respondents had PDAs with color screens and 28 percent had monochrome PDAs.

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