Voice-enabled devices set to eclipse traditional PDA sales

IDC is predicting that growth in the PDA market will focus around voice-enabled devices, drawing sales away from traditional units.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  August 19, 2003

Converged mobile devices that combine voice and data functionality are emerging as the dominant force in the worldwide PDA market. IDC is predicting that growth in the PDA market will focus around voice-enabled devices, drawing sales away from traditional units.

Growth in the converged mobile market will be accelerated during 2003 as the introduction of a number of new Symbian OS-powered devices push worldwide shipments beyond 13 million units.

“As device aesthetics and functionality improve and end-user prices continue to decline, converged mobile devices are becoming increasingly accessible to the mainstream consumer and are expected to ship in greater numbers than traditional handheld devices for the first time in 2003,” says Kevin Burden, manager of IDC's Mobile Device research team.

Overall, the worldwide handheld device industry will decline by 8.4% to 11.35 million units in 2003 — it’s second straight year of decline. Although limited growth is expected to return during 2004, dreams of a 20 million unit-a-year market will be replaced by a less than 15 million unit-a-year reality, where the likes of Dell, Handspring, HP, Palm and Research-in-Motion are focusing on converged mobile device production.

Market growth is expected to remain strong throughout 2007 as a growing percentage of mobile phones adopt high-end operating systems. A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 86% is expected through the forecast period.

“The killer applications of mobile voice and text communication continue to drive converged mobile device sales upward. As vendor strategies mature, a greater number of voice-centric devices or ‘smartphones’ are reaching market with significant volume potential as primary-use mobile phones,” says Alex Slawsby, research analyst in IDC's Mobile Device research team.

“Demand for non-voice enabled handheld devices remains depressed as mixed economic conditions, competition from alternative devices, and limited world appeal impact market expansion,” he adds.

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