Windows CE to outship PCs in five years – researcher

All tomorrow's smartphones

In five years' time, more Windows CE devices will be shipping than Windows PCs. So reckons PC and PDA market researcher eTForecasts.

So while 2002 saw 126 million PC shipments worldwide and nine million WinCE device shipments, come 2008 and 190-200 million PCs will ship compared to 200-220 million WinCE devices, according to eTForecasts' numbers.

Driving this are some staggering growth rate predictions. While PC shipments will rise by around 7-9 per cent over the next few years, before rising to double figure growth around 2005, WinCE shipments will see a massive 250 per cent increase in shipments between 2004 and 2006. Growth never drops below 50 per cent between now and 2010, according to eTForecasts' figures.

The company's argument is that as consumer electronics devices evolve they will become more like computers. "Computer hardware and software platforms have started to invade many electronics device categories and will become the preferred system architecture for an increasing portion of electronic devices," says eTForecasts. "Only the simplest devices with fixed functionality will avoid this trend." That, it believes, will favour the adoption of OSes like WinCE and embedded Linux.

WinCE will come out tops, it reckons, because "most Windows CE platform competitors only compete in a single or a few product segments... software platforms using embedded Linux versions are competing across the board". We'd have thought that would have favoured Linux - surely that level of competition implies that Linux is being used in a much wider array of applications?

Whatever, WinCE is going to have to get into a lot of "PDAs, smartphones, consumer electronics devices and other information appliances" if it's to achieve the kind of growth eTForecasts is predicting. There's certainly no sign that the PDA market will grow that fast, and we suspect the consumer electronics world will favour low-cost Linux. That leaves the smartphone arena as WinCE's best hope. ®

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