New vendors help to boost PDA shipment

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By  Published  September 1, 2006

Worldwide personal digital assistant (PDA) shipments totalled 3.7 million units in the second quarter of 2006, a 2.7% increase from the second quarter (Q2) of 2005 and the highest PDA shipment total of any second quarter on record, according to analyst firm Gartner.

Much of the growth in the PDA market in Q2 was generated by vendors that were not among the first-tier one year ago — such as Mio Technology, Motorola and Danger — while last year’s first tier vendors — Research In Motion (RIM), Palm, HP and Dell — have had steady-to-declining shipments, the research group said.

“The ongoing integration of wireless area network (WAN) technology into PDAs, and the marketing push of these devices by wireless operators has produced most of the growth compared to one year ago,” said Todd Kort, principal analyst in Gartner’s Computing Platforms Worldwide group.

“The average selling price of PDAs fell by 6% from one year ago to US$373, mostly due to aging product lines, the increasing impact of wireless operator subsidies and relatively few new PDAs being launched thus far in 2006,” Kort added.

He said as a result, worldwide PDA end-user revenue fell by 4.1% from one year ago to US$1.38 billion for the second quarter. Despite a PDA shipment decline of 1.1%, RIM was still the worldwide leader, accounting for 22.5% of worldwide PDA shipments.

RIM shipped nearly 1.3 million BlackBerry units in the second quarter of this year, up 41% from a year ago.

“There are quite a few more cellular PDA models with keyboards in the market now than there were one year ago, but none are seriously challenging RIM’s strong position in enterprise accounts,” Kort went on to say.

Palm’s PDA shipments declined 27% from the same period last year, but Garter said the firm’s performance was not that bad considering it had not introduced any new PDAs since late 2005. Shipments for the firm’s Treo were excluded because it is primarily a smartphone device.

HP’s iPAQ business continued to struggle in the second quarter as its shipments fell 15% — its worst quarter in nearly four years.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile extended its lead over other PDA platforms, as it accounted for 54.2% of PDA operating system shipments. RIM accounted for 22.5% of the market, followed by Palm OS at 13.4%.

Gartner defines a PDA as a data-centric handheld computer weighing less than one pound that is primarily designed for use with both hands.

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