Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Wearable computers are an interest of mine. I think it's the obvious next step, and I'm just waiting for always-on mobile internet connections before trying to make the switch myself.

Wearables aren't mainstream yet, but a certain kind of mobile computing is, cellphones. Cellphones are general computers and getting more and more powerful every day. Some people think that they are leading the way towards localization of computer and internet access. I must admit, the more powerful smartphones look a great deal like general personal computers. I could use a Treo 610 for.. almost everything except development for my job.

We'll see.

Here is a captured message from a mailing list. Thanks to Eugen Leitl for forwarding it.

From: "Thad E. Starner"
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 22:40:59 -0400 (EDT)
To: wearables@cc.gatech.edu
Subject: [wearables] On-body computing outsells desktops + laptops 3:1 (sales stats)


Popular Science magazine asked me to write a "future headline"
blurb for them. What we gave them was

2015 Intel Abandons Desktop Market
(Thad Starner and James Fusia III)

In a surprise move today, Intel announced it will no longer support its
processors for the legacy desktop market. Simultaneously, the chip
giant announced five new low power processor lines for the wearable and
embedded markets. Since 2003, processors for on-body computers have
outsold desktop and laptop processors combined. Intel was best known
during that period for its relatively power hungry x86 desktop processors.

This 3:1 figure for 2003 has become part of my regular talks now. Popular
Science didn't believe the stats, so I had to point to some standard
industry sources to back it up. I thought y'all might find these
stats and pointers useful.

164M total PCs sold in 2003 (Gartner)
128M desktops+servers sold in 2003 (IDC + Gartner)
36M laptops (IDC)
510M-533M mobile phone handsets (Gartner Dataquest)
24M portable compressed (i.e. computerized) music players (InStat)
10.4M PDA sales (IDC)
600k Tablet PC sales (IDC estimate mid-2003)

Tablet PCs are not doing very well (no surprise, given that the
same idea did not do well in the early 1990s). More interesting to
me, however, is that PDA sales are declining from 12.6M in 2002 to
10.4M in 2003!! Basically, as Brad Rhodes predicted, the road to
wearables seems to be through the mobile phone.

Even more interesting, by my calculations, Nokia is now the #1
consumer computer manufacturer in the world (55M handsets vs 28M
desktop+laptop computers by HP-17% of the market). Before y'all get
on my case about that one, remember that most of Nokia's phones are
more powerful than the highest end desktop in 1990!

Here is an interesting question: How many handsets run the Symbian OS?
Or, for shock value, when will Symbian overtake Microsoft Windows as
the dominant OS platform on the planet given current growth rates? No
wonder Microsoft is fighting so hard to get into the phone market!
Not only is it the only way to continue its growth, but it may be the
only way for it to survive as we know it! (Shhh, don't tell them - do
you really want to rely on Windows for your phone calls? Think about

My prediction?: We will see the phone take over more and more of
the usual PC tasks until the PC becomes as irrelevant to the dominant
computing culture as the minicomputer or mainframe.



According to IDC desktop+notebook+ultra portable + x86 servers = 38.373M
third quarter 2003 (no handhelds).


Elsewhere, Information Week claims the PC market is expect to improve
13.6% in 2004 to 186.4M units sold using data by Gartner.


Simple algebra implies that there were actualy 164M PCs sold in 2003.
This jives with a 38M * 4 quarters estimate of 152M PCs according
to the data directly from IDC.

Elsewhere, a secondary source reports IDC expected 35M laptops to be
sold in 2003.


USA Today refines this to say IDC's number was 36M laptops


Compound Semiconducter and CNN report IDC and Gartner Dataquest
estimate 510M and 533M mobile handsets sold in 2003.


6.8M portable MP3 players shipped 2002
24M portable MP3 players 2003

PDA sales fall from 12.6M in 2003 to 10.4M in 2003

Tablet PC sales estimated at < 600k for 2003

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