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Information Appliances: Computer Platforms Invade Electronic Devices

March 11, 2003-
During the Internet bubble years, Internet or information appliances were perceived as a new product category that would severely impact the PC and other industries. This clearly did not happen. Instead nearly the opposite is taking place. Computer hardware and software platforms are invading the electronic devices in the telecommunication, consumer electronics, auto electronics and related industries. The long-term trend is clear: most electronics devices will sooner or later be based on microprocessors, software, networking and other computer technologies.

Why are computer platforms being used in electronic devices? Because the cost decline, capability growth and flexibility of computer platform-based designs eventually becomes the best solution. The key question is not if this will happen, but when will it happen in the various product segments. The most crucial question is who will control the leading computer platforms that will become entrenched in each electronic device segment? The next table shows how computer platforms are penetrating some of the consumer electronics and communications device segments.

Information Appliance Platforms
Segment Key Platforms
  • Palm OS 4 & OS 5
  • Microsoft Pocket PC
  • Linux & Qtopia
  • Microsoft Pocket PC Phone Edition
  • Palm OS 4 & OS 5
  • Symbian & Nokia Series 60
  • Symbian & other middleware
  • Linux & Qtopia

Smart Phones

  • Symbian & Nokia Series 60
  • Symbian & other middleware
  • Windows Powered Smartphone
  • Palm OS 5
  • Linux & Qtopia, Java or BREW
Feature Phones
  • Embedded OS & middleware
  • Java virtual machine: J2ME
  • Microsoft Pocket IE & Outlook
  • Qualcomm BREW
Set-Top Boxes
  • Microsoft TV
  • TV Linux Alliance
  • ELC Platform Specs
  • CableLabs middleware
  • DVB/MHP middleware
Media Servers
  • Windows XP Media Center
  • Sony Cocoon
  • Linux & middleware
  • CableLabs middleware
  • DVB/MHP middleware

"Microsoft certainly understands this trend and is expanding its Windows-based platforms to nearly every products segment", says Dr. Egil Juliussen, the author of the report. The cell phone manufacturers also understand, because they are developing their own platforms to counteract Microsoft. The TV and video industry also understand and are defining platforms and standards that are operating system agnostics. Many are using Linux and middleware standards to level the playing field.

These are results from a new market research report by eTForecasts. The report explores the technologies, computer platforms, product segments and markets for information appliances including detailed market estimates for six regions of the world from 1998 to 2007.

eTForecasts publishes market research reports for the PC, PDA, information appliances and Internet industries.

  Updated March 11, 2003