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Palm's dominance of the PDA market remains strong despite an apparent dip in marketshare last month.

According to US retail market watcher PC Data, Palm's January 2001 marketshare fell to 60.5 per cent from 65 per cent in December 2000. PalmOS licensee and number two in the market Handspring saw a single percentage point drop, from 27 per cent to 26 per cent.

That means Windows CE's share of the market grew 5.5 per cent month on month, but it's important not to take that as a sign of a major decline in interest in PalmOS-based kit.

For a start, Palm and Handspring, with their more consumer-oriented focus, recorded above par sales last December, thanks to the Christmas sales period. Higher Christmas sales are almost always followed by weaker January.

Indeed, Palm's sales in December, according to Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff, were $154 million. In January, the figure was just $51 million. Handspring's sales fell from December's $65 million to $23.7 million. PC Data suggested that between December and January unit and dollar sales fell significantly across the market.

Essentially, then, we're seeing a settling of the market following a successful consumer Christmas. Even so, PalmOS accounted for over 86 per cent of the PDA market last month. According to NPD Intelect, Palm's marketshare for 2000 as a whole was 72 per cent, down from 87 per cent in 1999. Handspring rose from nothing to take 14 per cent of the market, which means Palm effectively lost just one per cent of the market to Windows CE during 2000. Hardly something it need panic about, especially since the PDA business as a whole grew 271 per cent.

In the Windows CE sector itself, Compaq took four per cent of the market, up from two per cent. Hewlett-Packard also has two per cent in December; in January, its share rose to 3.5 per cent. Casio's share grew to two per cent, from 1.5 per cent. ®

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