Symbian Poses More Palm Problems

With Compaq’s iPAQ handheld taking away Palm’s market share in large chunks, Palm now faces another challenge in Europe: Symbian-based Nokia communicators. That is the finding of yet another market study showing Palm rapidly losing ground in Europe — at least for now.

The study of the European market released Wednesday by Canalys shows Palm-branded devices narrowly holding on to their lead in the second quarter with a 25.9 percent market share, down from about 50 percent for the same quarter a year ago. Compaq, which has had strong success with its iPAQ handhelds, now has a 25.5 percent market share, up from just 4.4 percent last year.

In third place is Nokia with a 10.6 percent market share. The study credits Nokia’s success to sales of its Nokia’s 9210 “smart phone,” a hybrid device based on the Symbian platform for Nokia’s success. The study measures unit sales of mobile data devices.

While Palm may be down, it is not out, the study concludes. Palm suffered not just from competition, but also from a difficult roll-out in which there were significant delays in getting its newly upgraded handhelds into the channel. The study concludes that Palm will do better in the second half of the year than it did in the first.

This is the second study this week that confirms Palm’s eroding position in Europe at the hands of Compaq. A Gartner Dataquest study released Monday showed Palm’s worldwide market share slipping to 32 percent in the second quarter, compared to 50 percent in the previous quarter. The same study showed Compaq handhelds with a 16.1 percent worldwide market share.

Nokia’s gains came largely at the expense of Psion, the study indicates. Psion’s market share in Europe slipped from 16.4 percent in last year’s second quarter to 7 percent in the second quarter of this year. The company recently announced it would stop developing new handhelds. Psion originally created the Symbian operating system and is a co-owner of Symbian along with Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and Matsushita.

Handspring, which develops the Palm OS-based Visor handhelds showed significant gains in Europe, according to the new study. Its market share more than doubled to 6.8 percent in the second quarter, the study notes.

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