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Linux misses out on record connected PDA shipments

Oct 31, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Worldwide PDA shipments increased nearly 21 percent year-over-year in Q3, and are on track to reach record levels in 2005, said Gartner today in a report that seems to contradict pessimistic PDA market reports from competing research firms. Linux accounted for a paltry 0.7 percent of shipments, according to Gartner.

Specifically, Gartner said Q3-2005 PDA shipments totaled 3.45 million units, a 20.7 percent year-over-year increase. Additionally, Gartner noted that the worldwide PDA market is on track to reach 15 million units shipped for the entire year, which would surpass the previous record of 13.2 million units set in 2001.

Differing viewpoints

Another research firm, IDC, last week counted half as many PDA shipments as Gartner, and sees the PDA market in its seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline. IDC tallied 1.6 million shipments in Q3-2005, down 16.9 percent year-over-year, and 8.8 percent sequentially.

Obviously, IDC is counting different devices than Gartner. Specifically, IDC considers PDAs to be “standalone” handhelds with no wireless connectivity, whereas Gartner defines a PDA as a “data-centric handheld computer” that “may offer WAN support for voice, [but are] data-first, voice-second devices.”

In other words, Gartner includes devices such as Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phones and RIM Blackberry wireless email devices, while IDC does not. Consequently, IDC's top five PDA vendors were Palm, HP, Acer, Dell, and Mio — all vendors of traditional PDAs. Gartner's top five, on the other hand (so to speak), are RIM, HP, Palm, T-Mobile, and Nokia.

Adding smartphones — which are primarily phones, and secondarily PDAs — resulted in an even more optimistic report on handheld market growth from Canalys last week. Canalys reported that the “converged” handheld market grew 75 percent year-over-year.

In short: the more connectivity the definition of “handhelds” includes, the faster their market grows.

Microsoft on top

Nearly half of all PDAs shipped were running some version of Windows CE, according to Gartner. The software platform used by Research in Motion (RIM) in its Blackberry device came in second, at around 25 percent of the market. Linux straggled in at fifth place, with just 0.7 percent of worldwide shipments, Gartner claims.

Worldwide Preliminary PDA Shipment Estimates by Operating System, 3Q-2005 (units)

OS Q3-05
Q3-05 share% Q3-04 Shipments Q3-04 share% Q3-04 to Q3-05 Growth%
Windows CE 1,693,471 49.2 1,375,866 48.1 23.4
RIM OS 862,000 25.0 565,000 19.8 52.6
Palm OS 515,175 14.9 850,821 29.8 -39.4
Symbian OS 200,000 5.8 0.0 NA
Linux 24,300 0.7 14,500 0.5 67.6
Others 150,400 4.4 52,620 1.8 185.8

(Source: Gartner Dataquest — October 2005)

Shipments by vendor

In terms of unit shipments by vendor, RIM extended its first place lead, with a year-over-year increase of 52.6 percent. RIM also accounted for about half of the worldwide growth, Gartner said.

However, Gartner notes that Blackberry PDA shipments were up less than 3 percent sequentially, as RIM's product mix begins to shift toward smartphones. Smartphones now account for an estimated 18 percent of RIM shipments, Gartner says.

Worldwide Preliminary PDA Shipment Estimates by Vendor, 3Q-2005 (Units)

Vendor Q3-05
Q3-05 share% Q3-04 Shipments Q3-04 share% Q3-04 to Q3-05 Growth%
RIM 862,000 25.0 565,000 19.8 52.6
HP 548,338 16.0 692,113 24.2 -20.2
Palm 478,575 13.9 748,950 26.2 -36.1
T-Mobile 206,800 6.0 51,000 1.8 305.5
Nokia 200,000 5.8 0.0 NA
Others 1,149,633 33.3 801,744 28.0 43.4
Total 3,449,346 100.0 2,858,807 100.0 20.7

(Source: Gartner Dataquest — October 2005)

Palm's decrease of 36 percent dropped it from second to third place behind HP. The Sidekick II and Pocket PC Phone Edition devices were responsible for T-Mobile's spectacular jump into fourth place, according to Gartner.

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