The increased functionality of mobile phones is having an impact on the PDA industry, as worldwide PDA shipments declined of 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2003, according to preliminary statistics from Gartner, Inc. This was the eighth consecutive quarter the handheld computer market experienced a year-over-year decline in shipments. Over the last year, the PDA market decline has been primarily due to falling shipments of PDAs that are based on non-mainstream operating systems.
"The PDA industry is struggling with the continuing economic doldrums and by the fact that approximately 70 percent of all PDAs are purchased by consumers with their own funds," said Todd Kort, principal analyst for Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "PDA market erosion is also resulting from increasing competition from mobile phones that include similar calendar, address book and other personal information management capabilities that have been fundamental applications of PDAs."
Table 1 Preliminary Worldwide PDA Vendor Shipment Estimates for 3Q03 (Units) Company Shipments 3Q03 Market Share
The worldwide PDA market would have suffered a much steeper decline if not for the strong growth by Hewlett-Packard. If HP's results were removed, the PDA market would have declined 13 percent year over year. HP's worldwide PDA market share reached 23.1 percent in the third quarter of 2003 (see Table 1), an all-time high for the company.
"HP refreshed its product line with five new models following the launch of Windows Mobile 2003 in late June, and it was first to market with OS upgrades for most of its installed base," Kort said. "The new HP models received favorable reviews and reached much lower price points than HP had offered before. This helped HP capture the market lead in the Western Europe and Asia/Pacific regions."
Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry device shipments more than doubled from a year ago. Gartner analysts attributed the company's success to rapidly expanding its international operations while more deeply penetrating existing accounts. The company is also benefiting from the new color BlackBerry 7200-series, which is spurring many BlackBerry customers to upgrade from their old monochrome models.
Palm increased its market share of the worldwide PDA market from a year ago, but it experienced a decline in market share in the U.S. The U.S. PDA market grew 5.2 percent in the third quarter of 2003; however, Palm's shipments declined 0.6 percent from a year ago.
"Palm has steadily improved its product line and its competitive position with the PDA market over the last year, but it faces the brunt of the onslaught from mobile phones because of its dominant position within the sub-$200 portion of the PDA market," Kort said. "It has also been impacted by the tendency of most Palm users to rely heavily on the PIM applications that are being offered in many new mobile phones."
Microsoft Windows CE licensees continued to close the gap on Palm OS licensees in the third quarter of 2003. Windows CE accounted for 42.3 percent of worldwide PDA OS shipments in the third quarter of 2003, compared with 46.0 percent for Palm OS. On an end-user revenue basis, Windows CE captured 54.2 percent of the market, while Palm OS accounted for 36.1 percent of end-user spending.