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Nokia, Moto drive world smart-phone sales

Phones keep Palm, HP above water as PDA sales plunge

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Palm's Treo smart phone out-shipped the company's traditional PDA products during Q3, the latest figures from market watcher Canalys reveals.

And in a sign that buyers want phones with PDA functionality, rather than PDAs that can make calls, Nokia and Motorola proved the most successful mobile device players in the calendar quarter.

Palm Treo shipments jumped 71 per cent year on year, the researcher said, but that wasn't enough to counterbalance a big fall in PDA sales, which pulled Palm's overall shipments down two per cent when compared to Q3 2004.

Indeed, across the mobile device industry, handheld shipments plunged 18 per cent year on year, while smart-phone shipments were up a massive 75 per cent in the same timeframe.

There are no prizes for guessing who's the winner here: Nokia, which experienced a 142 per cent gain in smart-phone shipments. In Q3 it shipped a record 7.1m units, Canalys' numbers show, taking its market share to 54.8 per cent, up from 39.7 per cent this time last year.

Number-two place Palm saw its market share almost halve, from 14.5 per cent in Q3 2004 to 8.1 per cent. Palm shipped just under 1.1m units, barely ahead of Research in Motion (RIM), which shipped 977,940 Blackberries during the calendar quarter, enough to give it 7.5 per cent of the market, down from 8.3 per cent despite a 58 per cent increase in unit shipments. However, the outcome of the legal battle with NTP could cost it dear in coming quarters, especially if NTP wins a ban on US Blackberry sales.

Nokia's surge partly explains that paradox - so does fourth-placed Motorola's success: its unit shipments leapt 1025.5 per cent year on year, pushing its market share from less than a single percentage point to 5.3 per cent. The upcoming Treo-like Q device could well drive Motorola to further success.

Certainly, HP's new smart-phone line, the iPaq hw6500 series, helped keep the company in Canalys' list of top five vendors, though its overall unit shipments were down 20.1 per cent, and its market share fell from 9.3 per cent to 4.2 per cent. In Q3 2004 it was the number three vendor - now it's in fifth place. Like Palm, HP has suffered from rapidly declining PDA sales - unlike Palm, it's taken a long time to equip itself with a solid smart-phone product. ®

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