January 9, 2004, 12:00 AM

The long crawl to wireless shopping won’t speed up soon, says Jupiter

Jupiter Research’s new report "PDAs: Optimizing Integration" says that only 14 million consumers own handheld PDAs and that number will grow only to 20 million by 2008. At that time, PDAs will be used by only 7% of the population.

After flirting with, then abandoning, wireless applications four years ago, the online retail industry has been waiting for the market to develop. Keep waiting, says a new report from Jupiter Research. Jupiter’s new report "PDAs: Optimizing Integration" says that only 14 million consumers own handheld PDAs and that number will grow only to 20 million by 2008. At that time, PDAs will be used by only 7% of the population.

PDAs’ popularity will increase as their complexity and size decrease, Jupiter predicts. Jupiter says consumers are most interested in voice and personal information management or a combination of the two.

Thus retailers who are working on wireless access to their web sites should look carefully at what they’re creating, says Michael Gartenberg, Jupiter vice president and research director and author of the report. "It makes sense to focus the opportunities on the kinds of wireless devices that most people have--and that’s the cell phone," Gartenberg says.

Cell phones have less functionality than PDAs, but they are much more widely used and their functionality can increase to the point where they are almost PDAs, Jupiter says. "Basic PDAs with excellent personal information management functionality will continue to make up the majority of sales while higher end devices will remain in niche markets only," Gartenberg says. "As phones with integrated and functional PDA capability come into the market, they can spur growth opportunities for vendors." He urges vendors to avoid "other less desirable features such as game play or media integration."

 

 

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