Shipments of converged mobile devices increased substantially during both the fourth quarter of last year and during all of 2006, according to market-research firm IDC.
Companies shipped a total of 23.5 million devices during the last quarter of 2006, 33.5 percent more than the same quarter a year ago. For the whole year, vendors shipped 80.5 million devices, 42.0 percent more than shipped in 2005.
"The robust growth in converged device shipments in 2006 was driven by substantially decreased price points and a greater selection of devices for consumers to chose from," said Ryan Reith, research analyst for IDC. "Competitive pressures have driven price points below $200, making converged mobile devices more affordable to a broader base of users. More than ever before, vendors are focused on providing greater capabilities that differentiate their products while keeping costs in check.”
Looking ahead, IDC maintains a positive outlook for converged mobile devices. “Lower prices and costs, coupled with raised interest among users, are a boon to nearly any market, and this one is no different. The key is to watch which vendors are taking which strategic steps in which regions in order to realize market share and profitability," said said Ramon Llamas, another IDC analyst.
Nokia ended 2006 much the same way it began the year — as the undisputed leader in the industry. Nokia’s broad range of devices, ranging from the enterprise-oriented E-series to the multimedia-heavy N-series, has allowed the company to reach many users around the world. However, the company acknowledged that its presence among enterprise users, and among users in the Americas in general, had not lived up to expectations.
Research In Motion, whose BlackBerry devices have long been associated with enterprise mobility, took second place for both the quarter and the year. Much attention during Q4 went to RIM’s BlackBerry 8100 Pearl, the company’s first with an embedded camera and multimedia player. While the Pearl represented a departure from RIM’s traditional models, its value proposition for enterprise connectivity and security remained the same – particularly, since IT managers could disable media features.
Motorola improved its position as one of the worldwide leaders of converged mobile devices in 2006, thanks in large part to the success of its A1200 MING in China and the Motorola Q in North America.
What’s a Converged Mobile Device?
IDC combines two classes of devices — smartphones and cellular-wireless handhelds — into one, which it calls converged mobile devices.
These are either voice- or data-centric and are capable of synchronizing personal information and/or email with server, desktop, or laptop computers. Such devices match wireless telephony capability to evolved operating systems or application environments, such as the Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and the Symbian platform, and include the ability to download data to local storage, run applications, and store user data beyond their required PIM capabilities.