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Survey: Wireless growth strong in China

Developers of wireless software in China are ready for strong growth, with 68 percent surveyed saying they expect to implement new applications in the next 12 months, according to a new report.

Tech Industry
Developers of wireless software in China are ready for strong growth, with 68 percent surveyed saying they expect to unveil new applications in the next 12 months, according to a report released Monday by Evans Data.

The results should come as no surprise, given that the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry said there are more than 250 million cell phones in China, compared with 140.7 million in the United States. And the need for wireless LANs is also driving new applications in China, a highly populated country that lacks extensive wired communications networks.

"Overall, wireless development is aided by the fact that China doesn't have an established infrastructure and cell phones are ubiquitous," said Esther Schindler, who analyzes China's wireless industry for Evans. "The ratio of cell phones to land lines is higher there than it is here."

According to the survey, 31.5 percent of wireless developers are implementing applications now, while 37 percent expect to release applications within the next 12 months. Another 21.2 percent said they expect to launch new wireless applications within the next two years.

They also listed the various devices that are capturing their attention. Making multiple selections, 43 percent of developers cited cell phones, 33 percent cited wireless LANs, 27 percent picked smart cards, 24 percent picked notebooks and 22 percent picked embedded processors and custom hardware.

"Very few developers in China have the luxury of working on one device. They don't specialize like wireless developers in North America and other parts of the world. You don't hear them saying, 'I'm a Palm Pilot developer and that's all I do,'" Schindler said.

Palm, which earlier this year entered the Chinese market, has seen a 42 percent increase in the past six months in the number of developers writing applications for its platform in China. Palm had been seen as a latecomer to China, which is the largest handheld market in the Asia-Pacific region outside of Japan.

"Wireless developers are shifting away from pagers and moving toward PDAs. This will be interesting to watch over time," Schindler said.

The survey also found that Bluetooth is the most frequently used wireless LAN technology, with 22 percent of developers in China adopting it. That was followed by Wi-Fi, which had an 18 percent adoption rate versus 37 percent internationally.

"Wi-Fi is getting all the airplay (in the United States) and is hugely popular, but that doesn't seem to be the case in China. It's one worth watching, however," she said.

In China, 37 percent of wireless developers surveyed said they are considering adopting 802.11 technology in the future, but 20 percent have no such plans.

And when it comes to wireless operating systems, the survey found 54 percent of developers said they are working on Windows CE, 41 percent on Java (excluding J2ME) and 38 percent Linux.

Meanwhile, 43 percent of respondents said they expect to put their commercial wireless applications in the hands of more than 10,000 end users, and 54 percent surveyed said they expect more than 1,000 end users to use their applications.

That would mean at least 3 million end users in China using new wireless technology, out of a population of nearly 1.3 billion.

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