PDA sales plummet thanks to ‘limited appeal’ – IDC

Becoming a five-horse race: Palm, HP, Sony, Dell and Others

Palm may have launched two new PDAs yesterday, but if the latest figures from market researcher IDC are anything to go by, it's going to have a tough time persuading consumers and businesses to part with their cash.

IDC's numbers show PDA sales continue to decline. Some 2.45 million devices shipped throughout the world during the first three months of 2003, down 21.3 per cent on the same period last year.

Around 36 per cent of those machines (881,709 units) were produced by Palm, which retains market leadership in terms of units shipped. That marks a 30.5 per cent decline on the 1.27 million PDAs it shipped during Q1 2002.

HP, in the number two slot with 18.1 per cent market share, also saw unit shipments decline year-on-year, from 473,000 - based on combined HP and Compaq shipments - in Q1 2002 to Q1 2003's 444,000 units, a drop of six per cent.

The big winners are Sony and Dell, number three and number four in the market, respectively. Sony saw shipments rise 60 per cent from 250,000 units to 400,000 - 16.3 per cent of the market. Dell, meanwhile, has come from nowhere to take 6.5 per cent of the market, shipping 159,000 Axim PDAs.

Toshiba (number five), Casio (6) and Sharp (8) continue to see only single-figure market share, though they're now joined by one-time market number two, Handspring (7), which has seen shipments plummet since its decision to move away from pureplay PDAs into the more expensive PDA-cum-phone arena. RIM (9) took 2.1 per cent of the market, shipping 51,000 Blackberries.

"The post-holiday slump in enterprise and consumer spending on handheld devices mirrored the difficult worldwide economic climate," said Ross Sealfon, an IDC research analyst, in a statement. "Beyond the impact of seasonality... continued economic instability hampered device purchases. Despite the availability of new, low-priced models and affordable, highly functional models, handhelds offer limited appeal to the majority of consumers and enterprises." ®