Cheap Net devices likely to outstrip PCs in Asia

The number of information appliances is expected to grow to 18.9 million units in Asia (excluding Japan) by 2005. This will mark an 85 percent annual growth rate, and will mean that low-cost Internet devices will out-number PCs in the region.

SINGAPORE--The number of information appliances is expected to grow to 18.9 million units in Asia (excluding Japan) by 2005. This will mark an 85 percent annual growth rate, and will mean that low-cost Internet devices will out-number PCs in the region.

According to a study by IDC, there will be 17 million PCs in Asia in 2005.

The research company defines information appliances as consumer-focused digital products costing less than US$500, which can provide Internet services. Examples of these are Internet smart handheld devices, Net gaming consoles and interactive TV.

"The PC can seem overly complex with all its functionality," IDC research manager for personal systems Davina Yeo told The Business Times, explaining why users might find getting online a daunting experience.

However, "Web surfing on a TV or other household appliance" is simple enough for families to use, she noted.

The study also pointed out that technology trends are expanding the types of services that can be delivered on information appliances, which will propel their popularity.

There are a few challenges to the companies that produce information appliances. Among them are viable business models, long-term profitability, regulatory bodies and infrastructure.

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