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Q1 sales down everywhere but Europe

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PDA shipments may be rising in Europe, but around the world as a whole they continued to decline during the first three months of the year, market watcher IDC reports.

Some 2.2 million handheld devices shipped globally during Q1, down 11.7 per cent on Q1 2003 and 33.1 per cent fewer than Q4 2003's total.

By contrast, over 852,000 devices shipped in Europe, an increase of 33 per cent year on year.

A dip between Q1 2004 and Q4 2003 is only to be expected given consumer spending patterns in the holiday season, but as IDC's fuller European figures show, consumers are proving more interested in smart phones than PDAs. Buyers of high-end devices in particular are opting for handhelds with voice communications built in, the researcher said.

Indeed, IDC highlighted PalmOne's Treo 600 as the device maker's fastest growing product, with shipments up 37 per cent between PalmOne's second and third fiscal quarters, roughly equivalent to calendar Q4 2003 and Q1 2004, respectively. But shipments of the company's other PDAs fell 38.7 per cent over that timeframe, IDC's numbers show. That cut its market share from 39.4 per cent to 36.1 per cent.

PDA vendors are also focusing on building the market through low-end devices, and that too is pulling business away from the high-end products.

"If entry-level devices prove to be the most successful products adopted by consumers, the long-term impact could be acceleration away from hardware differentiation and a further loss of value in the handheld industry," said IDC mobile devices analyst David Linsalata.

Take Sony. It's focus on the high end of the market resulted in its market share shrinking to 9.3 per cent on the back of shipments down 57.2 per cent sequentially and 49.6 per cent year on year.

IDC expects PalmOne's shipments to increase shortly on the back of today's new consumer devices, the latest additions to the Zire product line, which has seen shipments surpass the three million mark in under 18 months.

HP saw Q1 shipments jump 24.8 per cent year on year, taking its market share to 25.7 per cent. It is expected to launch a rival to PalmOne's Treo 600, the iPaq 6300, soon. Dell's shipments were up just 2.2 per cent year on year, nudging its market share up from 4.7 per cent to seven per cent.

Like Sony, Toshiba experienced big sequential and year-on-year declines, with shipments falling 48.4 per cent and 34.1 per cent, respectively, to Q1's total. The success of German PocketPC/GPS bundler Medion didn't follow through into Q1, allowing Toshiba to regain its number five placing on the vendor chart. ®

Global Mobile Data-centric Device Market
Vendor Q1 2004 shipments Q1 2004 market share
1 PalmOne 810,183 36.1%
2 HP 577,615 25.7%
3 Sony 209,675 9.3%
4 Dell 157,399 7%
5 Toshiba 49,067 2.2%
  Others 442,560 19.7%
  Total 2,246,499 100%

Related stories

PalmOne updates consumer PDAs
PDA, smartphone sales rocket in Europe
PalmOne, HP slog it out over Euro sales

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