The worldwide market for handheld devices grew slightly in the fourth quarter of 2003, largely due to strong holiday sales by palmOne and Hewlett-Packard. According to IDCs Worldwide Handheld QView, device shipments continued to show growth with a rise of 3.2% year-on-year in 4Q03 and a sequential increase of 52.7% to 3.4 million units. These numbers include only handheld devices without telephony capabilities.
Among the top vendors, Hewlett-Packard experienced 101.5% year-over-year growth on the strength of a particularly large and diverse portfolio. In particular, the HP iPAQ 4150 reached market, combining both Bluetooth and wireless LAN capability in a package barely larger than the company's smallest unconnected device, the 1940. The top 4 vendors maintained their market positions during the fourth quarter, but Toshiba was knocked out by Medion's ascension into the number 5 spot.
For the full year, the total handheld market decreased to 10.4 million units; a drop of 17.9% from the previous year's shipments of 12.6 million units. IDC believes that this full-year decline matches the changing role of the handheld device in a mobile-telephony energized world.
The table shows the full year results.
palmOne On the strength of the newly released Zire 21, Tungsten E, and Tungsten T3 handhelds, palmOne posted sequential growth of 56.7% and a corresponding increase in market share from 37.5% to 38.5%. However, given palmOne's history of producing simple yet powerful devices, a holiday increase in shipments is to be expected.
Hewlett Packard Although HP's market share declined from 25.9% in the previous quarter to 25.1% in 4Q03 due to a significantly larger market, HP continued its momentum from the previous quarter and grew its shipments by 101.5% year-over-year. By building upon a range of products introduced during the summer that covers all price points, HP found itself well-positioned to continue its growth through the end of the calendar year.
Sony Strong holiday sales in the U.S. helped Sony to sequential growth of 99.8% for the quarter. But Sony was caught between product cycles and experienced weak growth in other regions, bringing its year-over-year shipments down by 2.8%.
Dell The fourth quarter saw the introduction of Dell's new Axim X3 line of devices, pushing Dell up 21% sequentially and 167.4% year-over-year. With both products being pushed in tandem throughout the world, Dell looks to get back on the growth track it experienced with the introduction of its Axim X5 devices last year.
Medion Entering the top 5 vendor list for the first time, relative-newcomer Medion displaced Toshiba for the number 5 position with shipments of almost 100,000 devices, representing sequential growth of 104.2%. With sales coming largely from Europe, Medion has grown on the strength of its low-cost handhelds. Based in Germany, Medion produces a range of consumer products with a focus on high-value and low-cost.