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Nokia triumphs in Europe's mobile device market with 7650

Recategorisation alert - but perhaps not an invalid one...

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Nokia has scored a massive triumph in the European mobile device market in Q3, according to research outfit Canalys. Largely on the back of the 7650, the company doubled its market share to 56 per cent, while the segment overall grew 23 per cent. As you're already suspecting, you would do well not to believe these numbers - but despite this they may provide the odd important signpost.

Difficulty number one is that the 7650 is relatively new on the market, and there simply cannot be that many of them (Canalys puts shipments at 665,940) already in users' hands, even taking into account that not all of the total are actually 7650s. Canalys however measures units going into the channel, so presuming they are desirable objects (which is not an unreasonable presumption) they assuredly will be with users soon.

Difficulty number two is the apples and pears issue. Canalys' figures consist largely of what you'd term PDAs, and the 7650 is not technically a PDA. You could maybe call the Sony-Ericsson P800 a PDA (not that it's yet in a position even to trouble the stats for hardware going into the channel), and you could call the Nokia 9210 a PDA, but the 7650 is a smartphone, and the trainspotters among the mobile phone design community know this well.

We at The Register however suspect that Canalys (and Nokia) may have something here. PDA sales figures are clearly swamped by mobile phone sales figures, and the relative success of the 9210 in PDA terms looks pretty much like dismal failure by mobile phone standards. Has it achieved what success it has done in the PDA stats because it's a top of the range mobile phone for geeks and similar? Possibly.

Do mobile phone users care about categorisation differences between a P800 and a 7650? Probably not. Quite a lot of what you can do with one of them, you can do with both, and this includes email, messaging and contact management, i.e. what you'd previously have done with a PDA (connected to something), is beginning to be done in mobile phone packages, at mobile phone sales volumes. And the forthcoming Nokia 3650, pitched as a cheaper version of the 7650, will accelerate this trend.

We don't of course mean to suggest that PDAs are entirely doomed - just that they're a niche, and that the phone is currently the natural high volume platform for users who want some PDA functionality in just the one box. Which is maybe a roundabout way of saying we therefore don't entirely reject Canalys' exercise in recategorisation.

Dataquest figures for the same territory and period out today provide some perspective. These show Nokia taking a hammering, down from a 13 per cent to a 7 per cent (which comes to 34,560 units) share, and this is precisely what you'd expect if we were simply talking about the 9210, which is a lot less compelling than it was last year. Dataquest's headline is that Palm stayed top, gaining 2 per cent on the same quarter's figures last year, and that the market itself grew 15 per cent, which maybe ballpark agrees with Canalys, given that Dataquest clearly isn't counting 7650s.

Yet. It shows 12,000 shipments this year for O2's XDA, and if you're going to count an XDA then you're surely going to count a P800, which does inexorably lead you to count 7650s and similar. The collision, friends, is almost upon us. ®

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