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Euro PDA sales fell 34.5% in Q3

Recession-hit punters waited for PocketPC 2002?

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PDA makers are having a tough time selling product in Europe. According to the latest figures from market watcher Gartner Dataquest, PDA sales were down 34.5 per cent during the third quarter of the year, compared to Q3 2000.

After Q2's meagre seven per cent growth, it's clear that the slump in demand seen earlier this year in the US have come to Europe. By and large, the reasons are the same: demand falls as a result of the gloomy economic climate, leaving the channel with too many unsold machines. Result: vendor shipments plummet.

During July, August and September, around 324,538 were shipped in Europe, which isn't very many really. Palm, for one, can take heart from the fact that its Q3 market share, 37.9 per cent, includes a 5.6 per cent gain on the previous quarter. However this is still some way down on the 52.5 per cent share Palm took this time last year.

Compaq, by contrast, saw its market share slip by nearly half to 16.9 per cent from the 30.2 per cent it took last quarter. As we've suggested before, Compaq's success in the first half of the year seems to have been a product of its limited supply, and following a strong Q2, pent-up demand has largely been sated.

Increased consumer sensitivity to price won't have helped Compaq either, or Palm's much stronger advertising presence.

Gartner Dataquest had predicted that Compaq's gains would continue through Q3. It's now forecasting that sales will pick up in Q4 on the back of the recently released PocketPC 2002 update, with buyers having put off their purchases to wait for the new software's arrival.

We're less convinced of this, but Microsoft's share of the PDA platform arena did fall to 29.1 per cent in Q3 from Q2's 40.9 per cent, and that will certainly have had an effect on iPaq sales. Countering any gains made through PocketPC 2002 will be uncertainty over the future of iPaq in the light of the anticipated merger with Hewlett-Packard.

The Palm OS was the gainer here, taking 54.9 per cent of the market, though this is still down on Q3 2000's figure of 62.7 per cent. Symbian's share fell to 6.7 per cent from 14.2 per cent as demand for Psion's PDAs slumped following the organiser pioneer's decision to quit the consumer market. ®

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