PDA sales continue to slump

Palm proves most resilient

New research has shown that shipments of PDAs and handheld devices are continuing to drop, with the fall-off blamed on the weak global economy.

According to IDC, global shipments of so-called PDAs, or personal digital assistants, fell 6 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago and down 7.1 percent compared to last quarter. The actual number shipped amounted to 2.44 million, representing the third straight quarter that the market shrank.

"The demand for handheld devices remained soft during the third quarter due to weak economies in most regions," said Weili Su, senior analyst in IDC's Smart Handheld Devices service. "For the upcoming holiday season, we expect worldwide market growth to remain flat or slightly down from a year-on-year perspective."

IDC has defined a PDA as a pen-based and keypad-based handheld electronic device, which comes equipped with features such as an address book and calendar. Mobile phones that have these functions are not included in the statistics and the figures in the report include shipments to end-users or to channel distributors.

IDC's figures broadly match the numbers for the third quarter produced by rival research company Dataquest, a unit of Gartner. Dataquest's figures indicate that 2.55 million units were shipped in the quarter, down 2.4 percent from the same period last year.

Topping the list -- once again -- was Palm, which had a 33.8 percent market share during the quarter, equating to over 750,000 units shipped. This compares to a 29.1 percent share a year ago. "Palm has proven its resilience in the market despite the recent turmoil that has plagued the vendor," IDC said.

The number two company was Sony, a relatively new entrant to the market, securing a 14.4 percent market share, up a massive 276 percent over last year when the company controlled just 3.5 percent of industry shipments. Praising Sony for it massive growth over the past year, IDC said the Japanese company demonstrated "uncanny prowess" in growing its market share in a declining climate. Indeed the company surpassed HP in the sector, which controlled 11.9 percent of the market compared to 12.4 last year. IDC chalked up HP's reduced market share to its inability to maintain the momentum from the HP-Compaq merger.

Fourth on the list was Toshiba, "another surprising force" according to the IDC. Toshiba now owns 4.3 percent of the industry after launching it first PDAs within the last 12 months. Beating Handspring, Casio was the number five PDA maker, although its market share fell to just 4.1 percent from 7.1 percent last year.


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