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Non-phone handheld market free-fall persists

Apr 27, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The worldwide market for handheld devices without cellphone capabilities continued its contraction in the first quarter of 2006, posting its ninth consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline, IDC reports. Worldwide shipments for Q1-06 totaled 1.5 million units, down 22.3 percent from the same quarter a year ago, the analyst firm said.

In IDC's lexicon, “handheld devices” includes units with wireless Internet access and text communications capabilities, but excludes those with integrated mobile phone functions. Hence, PDA/phone devices such as Windows Mobile Pocket PC phones are not counted in IDC's handheld device market numbers.

In stark contrast to IDC's bleak outlook for non-phone handhelds, analysts are universally bullish on the robust growth of the overall mobile phone market (Gartner data), and on the rising fortunes of converged mobile devices (Canalys data). ABI, for example, in February predicted that smartphones will advance beyond early adopters and into the mainstream in 2006, doubling their shipment volumes to around 123 million units and attaining 15 percent of the worldwide mobile phone market.

Non-phone handheld vendor standings

According to IDC's latest data, Palm retained its top-ranked position with 32.2 percent of the market. The other top five vendors were Hewlett-Packard (22.5 percent), Dell (9.7 percent), Acer (7.5 percent), and Mio (7.1 percent).

IDC noted that shipments of Palm's line of Treo smartphones continued to increase, surpassing shipments of its non-phone handheld devices.

“After nine consecutive quarters of year-over-year decline, many are wondering how long this trend will continue, and whether the market will see a reverse,” noted Ramon Llamas, research analyst with IDC's Mobile Markets team.

“IDC believes that the market will eventually hit a size where the rate of year-over-year decline will slow to a sustainable level. That size has yet to be determined, but will be sustained by the core users of handheld devices as well as the enhancements found on these devices,” Llamas added.

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