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Traditional PDA market decline persists

Nov 9, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Worldwide shipments of non-converged handheld devices (PDAs) shrank to just 1.1 million units in Q3 of 2006, IDC reports. The analyst firm attributes the 15.4 percent drop from the prior quarter — marking the 11th straight quarter of year-over-year decline — to a lack of new devices.

IDC's definition of “handheld devices” includes units that provide wireless capabilities such as Internet access and text communication, but excludes “converged devices” with integrated telephony functions. While the PDA market has languished, however, converged devices are booming.

Sony's Linux-based Mylo notwithstanding, IDC's mobile markets research analyst, Ramon Llamas, notes that new PDA models have not been forthcoming in the market. “Contributing significantly to the decrease in shipments this quarter was a lack of new devices being announced or shipped to the market. Vendors continue to rely on models that have been on the market anywhere between two and four quarters,” he stated.

A lack of new PDA models will also likely affect future sales, according to Llamas. He explains, “Without many new devices on the market in the third quarter, it brings into question how shipments will total during the fourth quarter, when vendors typically expect a boost in shipments as a result of new devices coming to market.”

Still, PDA users remain “fiercely loyal” to their handhelds, while new “niche” users could catalyze shipments and possibly even new models, according to IDC. Llamas notes, “In some developing markets, the handheld device has been tremendously important in self-education, enabling users to continue learning outside the classroom once they have downloaded content through the PC.”

IDC has previously suggested that the inclusion of GPS functions could offer an opportunity for non-phone handhelds to find more traction among consumers.

Vendor rankings

According to IDC, Palm remains the top vendor. During Q3, the company increased its market share to nearly 41 percent, up from 30 percent in the third quarter of last year. Number two HP's share dropped to just under 22 percent, from 25 percent in the corresponding quarter of last year.

Mio, fourth in last quarter's rankings, tied with Dell for third place this quarter with 9.5 percent each. Sharp rounded out the top five with a 3.6 percent share of the market. Sharp, meanwhile, posted the largest year-over-year gain in shipments, up 207 percent.

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