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No PDA market growth in Q3 without HP

Saturation point reached?

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That the global PDA market grew at all in Q3 this year is entirely due to HP, market watcher IDC has claimed. And if things don't pick up this Christmas, the market might soon be moving backwards.

Shipments of PDAs - classed by IDC as devices without voice telephony features - during Q3 rose a mere 1.1 per cent over the year-ago quarter's total to 2,368,733 units - a gain of just a few hundred thousand or so devices. Shipments were up 9.4 per cent on Q2, said IDC.

While HP managed to unseat Palm in Europe, the now company now known as PalmOne retained its worldwide lead It took 35.6 per cent of the market in Q3, down from Q2's 41.8 per cent. HP came in at number two, with 24.5 per cent, up from Q2's 17.6 per cent. Sony was next, with an 11.5 per cent Q3 share, followed by Dell (5.7 per cent) and Toshiba (3.6 per cent).

HP was clearly the star of Q3. The leap in shipments that saw it take the number one spot in Europe was widely replicated elsewhere. Overall, HP PDA shipments rose 52.5 per cent over Q2, well in excess of the market average and nicely counteracting Q2's sequential drop of 16.7 per cent.

Q3's jump came from the five Windows Mobile 2003 devices it launched at the end of Q2. Two recent product introductions should see its momentum continuing through Q4, IDC forecast.

Palm's October product introductions - the Tungsten E, Tungsten T3 and Zire 21 - should help Palm's Q4 numbers. They are "poised to build on the strong sales of their predecessors", said IDC.

Likewise, Dell's newly introduced Axim X3 family should boost its performance in the current quarter. Toshiba's new e800, with its 480 x 640 screen, will similarly help the mobile veteran. Its market share was pretty much static between Q2 and Q3.

Like Palm, Sony's market share declined during Q3, but by only 0.4 per cent.

But the prognosis isn't good. IDC lauded the quarter's gains as a "rare positive sign". As we noted yesterday, the traditional PDA is increasingly being beaten to sales by smartphones, while emerging portable media devices will soon start squeezing the business too.

"While personal information management has proven to be the killer application for more than 25 million users worldwide, handheld devices must evolve with new segments, applications, and technologies if the market is to remain relevant," said David Linsalata, associate research analyst in IDC's Mobile Devices program, in a statement.

"Unless holiday season demand proves particularly positive, the handheld device market will decline more steeply in 2003 than in 2002 as it returns to 2000 levels." ®

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