Sales of hand-held computers in the Asia-Pacific region have rocketed 36.7 per cent despite the slowing global economy, mainly due to robust sales in China, which have propped up the region. According to International Data Corp (IDC), China accounts for 68.5 per cent of the regional smart hand-held market, up by 32.9 per cent from the year before. In comparison, South Korea, the second-largest market in the region, has only 8 per cent market share. Taiwan is in third place with 6 per cent with Hong Kong and Singapore trailing with 5 per cent market share each. IDC analyst Manny Lopez said that despite the growth figures, the region had lost momentum from the previous year which saw growth of 254.4 per cent. 'Nevertheless, this is still one of the hottest sectors in the [information technology] industry. With more converged devices coming to the market this year, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential for this market,' Mr Lopez said. IDC's statistics showed a regional hand-held market where local players dominate, a picture radically different from the worldwide one because of China's large market share and its Chinese-language environment which is dominated by local vendors producing localised solutions. 'In terms of top OS [operating system] vendors, proprietary OS still took the majority of all OSes in the market with 70 per cent of the market due to the large PRC market.' Next was Palm with 17 per cent and Microsoft's Pocket PC with 12 per cent. 'We forecast that Pocket PC will take the lead by early 2003,' said Mr Lopez. He said the Symbian operating system would make its mark in the next few years as handset vendors such as Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola began shipping their smart phones to wireless operators. Local vendors Hi-Tech Wealth, Minren, and Legend managed to capture 42 per cent of all shipments in the Asia-Pacific region. However, Mr Lopez said there was still room for multinational vendors such as Palm, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Handspring, Casio, and Sony which together held 23 per cent of the mainland market, a figure that leapt to 67 per cent when China was excluded from the regional count. 'I do see more multinational vendors getting into the Chinese market. But in the near future, their presence will only be felt in the enterprise segment as price constraints are not so much of an issue. But as these devices start to come down in price, and language is not so much of a problem, and the need for higher-end more powerful devices becomes a need, we will see these multinational vendors make their way into the consumer market,' Mr Lopez said.