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PDA sales may be rebounding in Europe, but interest in handheld devices is cooling off in the rest of the world, according to the latest market data from industry watcher IDC.

Worldwide, PDA shipments during Q2 fell 10.7 per cent year on year and 10.2 per cent on the previous quarter to 2.27 million units, the company said yesterday. In Western Europe, however, the market grew 225 per cent year on year.

To be fair, the European figure includes smartphones. But focus solely on PDAs, and you're still looking at 42 per cent growth, IDC said.

IDC's findings broadly match similar figures released earlier this week by fellow market researcher Canalys.

The growth experienced by the European PDA market was driven by new products from Palm and HP, said IDC. Palm achieved a 40 per cent growth in shipments over Q2 2002 - "the largest increase for Palm since Q1 2000", said IDC. HP saw a 0.4 per cent increase in shipments over Q2 2002, reversing two quarters' worth of declining shipments (well, just about).

Like Canalys, it highlighted the impact of Germany's Medion on PDA sales, which saw significant local demand for its Pocket PC and GPS navigator bundle. Since Medion doesn't offer the product outside Europe, its success did little for the global market.

"Medion has considerable experience of selling electronic products through the discount food retail channel in Germany, where it has registered enormous success through one-off deals in the past. We also expect to see similar deals in Aldi Sud stores to mark the holiday season in Q3," said IDC's program manager for European mobile devices, Andrew Brown.

IDC also highlighted Nokia's 3650, Sony Ericsson's P800 and Orange's SPV E100 as the winners in the European smartphone arena. Nokia's market leadership was underpinned during the quarter by aggressive product promotions by T-Mobile and Vodafone.

PDA and smartphone companies shouldn't take such results for granted, if the wider market is anything to go by.

"Combined with worldwide economic uncertainty and an increasingly crowded market, handheld device vendors will have a difficult time building and maintaining market share," said Ross Sealfon, research analyst in IDC's smart handheld devices program. In their favour is a brightening macroeconomic outlook, which indicates a more favorable environment for PDA sales in the second half of the year, backed by vendor upgrades of device capabilities and the further integration of wireless connectivity - provided there are no significant price increases, IDC warns.

This past quarter's decline is largely a result of seasonal factors, and the result of buyers choosing notebook PCs and voice-centric smartphones over traditional data-centric PDAs. However, Q2's dip in shipments wasn't as bad as it had been this time last year. ®

Western European mobile device vendors
Rank Vendor Q2 2003
shipments
Q2 2003
market share
Q2 2002
shipments
Q2 2002
market share
Growth
1 Nokia 694,815 46.5% 32,581 7.1% 2032%
2 Palm 188,942 12.6% 134,800 29.4% 40%
3 Sony
Ericsson
150,000 10% N/A N/A N/A
4 HP 140,064 9.4% 144,928 31.6% -3%
5 Medion 54,000 3.6% N/A N/A N/A
  Others 265,800 17.8% 146,972 32% 81%
  Total 1,493,621 100% 459,281 100% 225%
Source: IDC
Worldwide PDA vendors
Rank Vendor Q2 2003
shipments
Q2 2003
market share
1 Palm 903,096 39.9%
2 HP 381,000 16.8%
3 Sony 256,600 11.3%
4 Dell 152,000 6.7%
5 Toshiba 75,600 3.3%
  Others 496,965 21.9%
  Total 2,265,261 100%
Source: IDC

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