According to a new Gartner Alert "PalmSource, Microsoft Tie for 1Q04 PDA Market Lead", worldwide PDA shipments declined 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2004, but the battle for the PDA operating system market has heated up as PalmSource and Microsoft were in a virtual tie in shipments in the first quarter of 2004, according to preliminary results from Gartner, Inc.
Palm OS shipments declined by 20.7% in the first quarter of 2004 compared with the same period last year. Palm OS market share slipped to 40.7%, while the Windows Mobile market share increased to 40.2%. Microsoft licensees have been steadily chipping away at the Palm OS lead since 2000, when Microsoft accounted for 11 percent of the PDA market.
"The decline in Palm OS market share in the first quarter of 2004 is not unexpected because many Palm OS users have delayed PDA purchases until they can evaluate PalmSource's upcoming operating system Cobalt," said Todd Kort, principal analyst in Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "Palm OS has also been impacted by Microsoft's bundling of Outlook with every Pocket PC, and the preferred status that Microsoft Windows enjoys with enterprise application developers."
Research in Motion experienced the strongest growth among PDA vendors as its shipments increased 352 percent. Its market share jumped to 14.8 percent in the first quarter of 2004, up from 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2003.
"In the last nine months there has been tremendous growth in the use of RIM BlackBerry devices. Given the number of e-mail messages sent or received each day by mobile professionals, it makes sense for many of them to have a pocket wireless device that can be used to keep up with e-mail," Kort said. "RIM has begun licensing its technology to Nokia, Siemens, and Motorola for use in mobile phones, as well as to several PDA vendors. This will undoubtedly provide a significant boost to sales of a wide variety of wireless handheld devices beginning in the second half of 2004."
On a regional basis, Western Europe exhibited the strongest growth rate, as PDA shipments increased 24 percent in the first quarter. The U.S. PDA market dropped 13 percent. The Asia/Pacific and Japan regions saw PDA shipments decrease 19 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Latin America PDA shipments were up 9 percent from the first quarter of 2003.