Handheld Sales Continue to Climb

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In the most recent quarter, shipments of handhelds grew 6.6 percent when compared with the same period a year ago. There were 3.65 million units shipped, according to market-research firm Gartner.

Much of this growth can be credited to Research in Motion (RIM). Apparently there were many people nervous about this company’s long-running lawsuit with NTP, and after this was settled a few months ago they felt safe to buy a BlackBerry, which they did in record numbers.

RIM shipped about 1.45 million BlackBerries last quarter, of which 517,000 were 7100 series smartphones. As Gartner’s report points out, March was easily the best month RIM has ever had, as it shipped about 845,000 BlackBerry units that month alone.

Results for Other Companies

Sales of Palm Inc.’s traditional handhelds continue to decline, and were down last quarter 25.2 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The 459,970 units shipped was the lowest the company has seen since 1998.

However, this decline was more than offset by rising shipments of its smartphones. During the first quarter of this year Palm shipped 581,000 Treos, with an estimated 20 percent of these being the new Windows Mobile-powered Treo 700w.

Gartner estimates that the total number of devices shipped by Palm was up about 5 percent.

Shipments of HP’s iPAQs dropped almost 30 percent last quarter, down to 421,336. The market research firm blames this on the long delay of the upcoming hw6900, as this company’s most recent cellular-wireless model, the hw6500, is still running Windows Mobile 2003 SE.

Gartner analysts aren’t enthusiastic about HP’s long-term prospects, either.  Their report says, "The iPAQ 69xx series is expected to begin shipping in the next few months, but HP’s flagship line has lost momentum that the 69xx will probably not recapture."

Many U.S. residents might not be familiar with Mio Technology, but it has taken the lead in handhelds with integrated GPS receivers, and it is doing especially well in Europe and Asia. It shipped 216,728 units last quarter.

Dell has also seen sales of its traditional handhelds decline, down 34 percent to 143,200 units last quarter. Somewhat surprisingly, its best-selling model is also its most expensive, the Axim X51v.

However, this doesn’t mean the company plans to leave this market, despite earlier rumors. Executives at Dell are emphasizing that they remain committed to the Axim line, and Gartner believes it is unlikely to exit the market in 2006.

Another company some people might not be very familiar with is Danger Research. It is behind the Sidekick II, sold by T-Mobile and other carriers. Shipments of this device were up last quarter, to 133,000.




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