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Linux makes Mot tops in PDA/smartphone growth

Oct 16, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Strong Linux smartphone sales in China helped Motorola achieve the highest overall year-on-year growth among the top five vendors in the PDA/Smartphone market, according to Gartner. In contrast, Motorola's Symbian- and Microsoft-based smartphones are “not making significant progress,” Gartner reports.

The finding is part of a quarterly report from Gartner on the PDA and smartphone markets.

Combined PDA/Smartphone market

According to Gartner, total worldwide PDA and smartphone shipments were up 57 percent during the first half of 2006, relative to the first half of the previous year, reaching 42.1 million units. Smartphone shipments grew 75.5 percent, accounting for 34.7 million units, while PDA shipments grew 5.7 percent, accounting for 7.4 million units, the research firm reckons.

Smartphone growth was highest in Japan, where 11.6 million units shipped, allowing Japan to pass EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) in smartphone shipments; 33 percent of all smartphones sales occurred in Japan, compared to 30 percent for EMEA, which had accounted for 42 percent of the market during the first half of 2005.

Smartphones outsold PDAs in every market except North America, Gartner reports. That continent accounted for 45 percent of the PDA market, while North America and EMEA together claimed 85 percent of the PDA market. Interestingly, North America accounted for a mere 6.3 percent of the combined smartphone/PDA market, despite 104 percent sales growth relative to the first half of the previous year.

Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst, stated, “Consumer taste and fashion, advances in personal information manager (PIM) software and messaging, and rapidly declining prices all combined to drive the strong growth in smartphone sales. On the other hand, consumer demand for PDAs is dwindling, especially with no new models from Palm in 2006.”

Vendor perspectives

Nokia led the combined smartphone/PDA market, with a 42 percent marketshare during the first half of the year. And, seasonal sales in the second half of the year will likely increase its share, Cozza said.

RIM (Research in Motion) grew significantly, shipping 60 percent more devices than in the first half of 2005, to claim 6.5 percent of the PDA/smartphone market for the first half of 2006. Thirty-six percent of its BlackBerry mobile devices shipped during the half included smartphone functionality, or nine percent more than last year.

Among the top five vendors in the combined smartphone/PDA market, Motorola was the growth leader, with 103.5 percent shipment growth compared to the first half of 2005. Its share of the combined market reached 5.3 percent, led by the success of Linux-based smartphones in China, Gartner said. However, Motorola's Symbian- and Windows-based devices are “not making significant progress,” the research firm said, speculating that Verizon's $80 monthly service plan minimum is hurting sales of Motorola's Windows-based Q phone.

Palm won five percent of the combined PDA/smartphone market, down from eight percent during the first half of 2005.

2006 forecast

Gartner predicts that smartphone shipments will reach 81 million units in 2006, a figure that represents 66 percent growth over 2005. Cozza stated, “Symbian licensees will continue to drive the market, and we can expect new product introductions to focus on advanced features, fashion, and rich multimedia functionalities. Going forward, players in the smartphone segment will need to overcome the challenge of selling the benefits of smartphones over less expensive enhanced phones. It will be crucial for them to focus on promoting content, applications and services that take full advantage of smartphone capabilities.”

Gartner expects the PDA segment, meanwhile, to grow around 6.3 percent in 2006 over 2005, to 16 million units, driven primarily by increased availability of cellular-enabled PDAs through wireless carriers. Additionally, the percentage of PDAs purchased by enterprises will continue to increase, to an estimated 52 percent of all PDA shipments in 2006.

Gartner defines “PDAs” as data-centric handheld computers “designed for use with both hands.” Although PDAs may include cellular phone support for voice, they are “data-first, voice-second device[s],” the research firm says.

These findings are from a quarterly Gartner report on the PDA and smartphone market. Additional details can be found here.

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