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Retail consumer PDA sales drove 34.6% growth in April

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April has proved a bumper month for PDA vendors selling into the UK, France and Germany, the latest data from European market researcher Context shows.

Retail sales drove the rebound as consumers snapped up low-end devices from Palm Sony. No wonder Palm was able to announce yesterday that it has shipped over one million consumer-oriented Zire PDAs.

PDA sales through retail channels in the UK, France and Germany rose 34.6 per cent in April, compared to the same month in 2002, Context said. Sales as a whole rose 12.7 per cent year-on-year during the month. Corporate sales fell seven per cent, while reseller sales fell 12 per cent.

These figures should provide some encouragement for PDA vendors who have seen the UK, French and German markets mature over recent years. Indeed, while total European PDA shipments rose 13 per cent during Q1, together the UK, French and German markets shrank 2.8 per cent.

April's numbers bring the first four months of the year up to 2002 levels.

Handheld PC sales in France increased 20.8 per cent for the first four months of 2003 compared with a year ago. In Germany, sales were flat. In the UK, sales dropped 9.5 per cent.

Over the same period, devices running the Palm operating system accounted for 63 per cent of units sold, up from 60 per cent a year ago. Pocket PC-based units accounted for 36 per cent of sales, up from 32 per cent a year ago.

During April, Sony's sales in the UK, France and Germany nearly tripled, and the company saw its market share rise from 4.9 per cent in April 2002 to 13. 4 per cent. That growth put the company in third place behind market leader Palm and number two vendor HP. Palm's share rose from 35.1 per cent to 43.3 per cent. HP's fell from 36.7 per cent to 25.4 per cent.

Other players captured just single-figure shares. Fujitsu-Siemens appeared from nowhere to take 3.2 per cent of the market. Toshiba took three per cent, up from 1.2 per cent. Handspring's share fell further, from 4.3 per cent to 2.7 per cent. Cellular network O2's XDA took 1.7 per cent of the market, up from 0.1 per cent the previous year. Packard Bell went from 0.1 per cent to 0.4 per cent, while Casio fell, its market share shrinking from one per cent to 0.1 per cent. Other vendors took 6.8 per cent of the market, down from 16.6 per cent in April 2002. ®

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