PDA Shipments Still Sliding

Shipments of PDAs declined by 13 percent in 2004, according to IDC, the third successive year of negative growth for the PDA market.

IDC’s “Worldwide Handheld QView” report showed that device shipments fell on a year-over-year basis by 18.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004.

But on a sequential quarter-to-quarter basis between the third and fourth quarters, shipments actually grew by 37.4 percent, driven by the usual holiday season burst in sales.

Overall, 9.2 million units were shipped in 2004, which was a decline of 1.4 million units (13 percent) from 2003.

The 2004 figure marks a five-year low for PDA shipments, which have not been below 10 million units since 1999, IDC said. Shipments have been on a steady decline since the industry hit its peak in 2001.

PalmOne held the top spot for 2004 in IDC’s report with a 39.6 percent market share, though it shipped 11.1 percent fewer (389,726) fewer units in 2004 than it did in 2003.

In the fourth quarter of 2004, palmOne shipments were 59.5 percent higher than Q304 and allowed the company to carve a 42 percent market share for last quarter of the year.

Holding the number two spot behind palmOne is HP with a 27.1 percent market share for 2004 and a growth in shipments of 9 percent (206,487 units) in 2004 over 2003. HP also recorded a sequential Q304 to Q404 gain of 25 percent, which gave it a 27.1 percent market share for the last quarter of the year. Yesterday HP announced its 2005 mobility strategy, which includes a renewed push in the handheld space.

Dell holds the number three spot with a distant 7.6 percent overall
market share 2004 with 695,171 units shipped. IDC noted that Dell posted a
22 percent year-over year increase, thanks to strong shipments from its x30
and new x50 models.

A lack of “compelling solutions” beyond the usual personal information
management (PIM) and integrated GPS receivers was cited by IDC as part of
the reason why PDA vendors are not able to expand.

David Linsalata, analyst in IDC’s Mobile Devices program, said despite a rise in quarterly shipments due to holiday seasonality and consumer uptake of bundled and integrated GPS receivers, increasingly saturated markets and stiff competition from converged mobile devices drove the handheld device market to its third straight year of decline.

“This drop stresses the urgent need for vendors to evolve their
devices beyond personal information management in order to return the
market to a growth path,” he said in a statement.

Gartner reported recently that PDA shipments from palmOne had actually fallen behind Microsoft Pocket PC devices (made by HP, Dell and others) in the third quarter of 2003. But in terms of actual vendor units shipped, palmOne held on to the top spot.

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