WinCE outlook turbulent

Everex Systems, one of the original backers of the handheld Palm-size PC devices based on Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, has decided to call it quits.

Everex will pull out of the Windows CE market to instead renew its focus on desktop PCs, confirmed a spokesman for Leo Systems, a sister company of Everex.

Everex is the second vendor to abandon the Palm-size PC arena. Philips Electronics NV last month also announced that it will phase out its Nino line of handheld Windows CE devices.

Windows CE-based handhelds have struggled to gain market share from competitors such as the popular Palm devices from 3Com's Palm Computing subsidiary. In the personal companion category, in which market researcher IDC includes both Windows CE and PalmOS devices, Palm has over 70 per cent market share.

"One of the hot issues in the SHD (smart handheld device) market is the war for developers, who or which operating system is going to attract developer support," said Diana Hwang, a program manager at IDC.

To attract users, devices need to offer an attractive range of services, which requires a critical mass of developers creating software and services, noted Hwang. "Developers go where the volume is, and right now Palm has the volume."

Everex's pullout was not entirely unexpected. Although the vendor earlier this year announced that it would bring to market a colour-version of its Freestyle Palm-size PC device, the company never released the product.

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