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PalmOne, HP slog it out over Euro sales

A matter of data interpretation

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Who commands the European PDA market: HP or PalmOne? Market watcher Canalys yesterday released figures putting HP first, but today research data from IDC puts PalmOne ahead.

Both concur that Nokia shipped more devices than either of HP and PalmOne put together, but while Canalys has HP with a 10.2 per cent market share and PalmOne on 10.1 per cent having shipped 251,530 and 250,310 units, respectively, during Q1, IDC grants PalmOne on 13.1 per cent and HP on 11.9 per cent of the market. Its figures for the number of devices shipped in the year's first quarter at 216,500 (PalmOne) and 196,080 (HP).

Both companies put Sony Ericsson at number 4 in the chart, followed by Siemens in fifth place.

With these two and Nokia, differences are inevitable - it all depends on which devices each researcher counts as a smartphone and which are plain, ordinary mobile phones. Such distinctions are more clear cut with HP and PalmOne. It's worth bearing in mind, too, that Canalys bases its numbers on shipments throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, whereas IDC only looks at Europe.

Both companies also work on the basis of what vendors tell them that they have shipped. This technique contrasts with that of fellow researcher GfK which measures over-the-counter sales. GfK figures for December 2003 and January 2004 seen by The Register put PalmOne ahead in all the major European markets but Italy and the Netherlands, where it is number two.

Market researchers with similar models usually come up with similar numbers, so comparing IDC numbers with those from Canalys is interesting. IDC puts the total number of mobile devices - smartphones, and both wireless and unconnected PDAs - shipped in Q1 at 1,646,705 units. That compares with Canalys' EMEA-wide figure of 2,470,440. IDC's European growth rate is 25.6 per cent, Canalys' equivalent is 62 per cent.

Clearly, while sales are up in Western Europe, they are shooting ahead in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Of those three territories, our money's on the big growth in the former. For Q1 2003, the two companies' figures differed by just 215,780 units. During Q1 2004, the discrepancy ballooned to 823,735 units, a growth rate of almost 282 per cent.

For Nokia alone, its growth rate outside of Western Europe comes to something like 337 per cent.

Interestingly, the discrepancy between the two sets of figures for PalmOne shows a dip. PalmOne's growth is driven by Western European buyers. Not so, HP - clearly PalmOne needs to broaden the geographics coverage of its marketing efforts. ®

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