RealTime IT News

Pocket PC Sales Slowed Before Rollout

A market share study released Monday confirms that, not surprisingly, sales of Pocket PC handhelds slowed considerably in the last quarter.

The slowdown isn't surprising because, during the quarter, vendors rolled out a new generation of handhelds based on Microsoft's updated Pocket PC 2002 platform. Buyers knowing about the updated devices would be likely to delay purchases until after their release.

According to the Gartner Dataquest Inc. study, overall handheld shipments slipped worldwide to 2.54 million units in the third quarter, a 9.5 percent decrease from the previous quarter.

The market share lead for Palm-branded devices continued to slip, but only slightly, in the quarter. It still led all handhelds with a 29.7 percent worldwide market share, followed by Handspring with a 13.9 percent market share. Handspring's market share increased from 10.7 percent in the previous quarter. Overall market share for the Palm OS, including all vendors, was about 52 percent, the study found. Overall Windows CE shipments were about 30 percent. Pocket PC is a variant of Windows CE. P> Compaq's 7.3 percent market share for the third quarter was roughly half that of the previous quarter. Compaq was in third place behind Handspring, according to the Gartner study. Casio was in fourth place with a 5.6 percent share and Hewlett-Packard was close behind with a 5.3 percent share.

Observers expected the decrease in Pocket PC's market share because of the product upgrade. However, Palm also was expected to start recovering from a near-disastrous overstocking of the channel earlier in the year when it released its new-generation handhelds.

Because of those factors, and because of the impact on buying resulting both from a sagging economy and the events of September 11, the fourth quarter is expected to be a truer test of the relative strengths of the Palm and Pocket PC platforms.

David Haskin is managing editor of sister site allNetDevices.com.