E-COMMERCE MOVING FROM LAPTOP TO PALM
NEW YORK — In a nod to the growing role wireless devices will soon play in people’s lives, Palm Inc.’s chief executive officer said Wednesday that the producer of personal digital assistants is developing handheld devices that will facilitate mobile commerce, in part, by incorporating e-wallets.
Carl Yankowski, ceo of Palm, said the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is investing aggressively in new products and the second half of 2001 will bring the introduction of handheld devices from Palm that offer instant messaging and enhanced e-mail capabilities. The time frame for m-commerce could not be learned.
Yankowski made those remarks during a presentation in San Francisco, sponsored by Banc of America Securities, according to a Reuters wire report.
Palm is estimating that it now has about 66 percent of the $25 billion market for mobile devices, a piece of the pie that is unchanged from 2000. The mobile-device maker, founded in 1992, said it has shipped 11 million handheld units since the Palm launch, and its own research has found that 94 percent of its users say they plan to buy more Palm devices.
While m-commerce has been slow to take hold in the U.S., where Internet users prefer to connect via personal computers, it is proliferating in Japan and Europe, where most users go online via wireless devices. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates there are 475 million users of the handheld devices worldwide, with only 100 million of them in the U.S. However, that pattern is expected to change pretty quickly.
Whereas only 5 percent of the mobile phones purchased in the U.S. in 1999 were Internet-enabled, 44 percent of mobile phones bought here last year had that capacity, marking a nearly ninefold increase, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers research. In addition, 31 percent of wireless phone users in the U.S. are currently interested in receiving e-mail via those phones, while 23 percent would access Web sites using them. Shopping via mobile phones, by comparison, appealed to just 13 percent of the wireless phone set.