Palm OS Tops in Handheld Sales in 2002

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Palm OS is Hot Again According to PalmSource, the Palm Platform continues its strong retail presence in both the U.S. and Europe.

During the 2002 holiday season, Palm Powered products faced stiffer competition than ever before as Pocket PC licensees introduced lower-priced handhelds like the HP iPAQ h1910 and Dell Axim X5. Despite this, Palm Powered handhelds maintained their historically strong share position in the United States, thanks in part to new products like the Palm Tungsten T and Sony’s NX series. According to weekly retail sales figures compiled by NPD Intelect in December 2002, Palm Powered devices maintained around an 80% share, roughly the same share range they held during the December 2001 holiday period.

While Palm maintained its lead, overall shipments of handhelds were down, according to Gartner Dataquest. It’s clear that 2002 won’t be remembered as a banner year for handheld sales. Dataquest says worldwide sales of all types of handhelds were down 9.1% to 12.1 million.

Better then just maintaining its lead, the Palm OS increased its market share in Europe, according to the October through November 2002 retail sales report from GfK Marketing Services.

In Germany, share of Palm Powered mobile devices in October-November increased eight points from a year ago, from 50% to 58%. In France, share of Palm Powered mobile devices increased 12 points, from 52% to 64%. In the United Kingdom, share of Palm Powered mobile devices increased by eight points, from 42% to 50%.

Palm is the number one handheld company in Europe. “In a consumer-driven quarter Palm has seen healthy shipments, up 19% on the same period last year, with the Zire lowering the price barrier and bringing new users into the market. The overall share of Palm OS was also helped again by Sony, with its own shipments up 182%,” said Chris Jones, Canalys director and senior analyst.

Enterprise Sales

Share of Palm OS devices is also strong among U.S. commercial resellers, companies that sell handhelds direct to corporations, according to NPD Intelect. During the third quarter of 2002, the most recent information available, Palm OS handhelds had 72.9% share, up from 56.7% in the same quarter the year before.

While sales to large companies are significant, they are still a minority of handheld sales. “We estimate that about 70 percent of all PDAs are purchased by consumers and only 30 percent by enterprises,” said Todd Kort, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest’s Computing Platforms Worldwide group. “The more lucrative enterprise market has been stagnant because of poor economic conditions and a perception that PDAs are not yet capable of delivering sufficient return on investment. The enterprise market is still another year away from embracing PDAs.”

According to Mr. Jones from Canalys, the wide variety of Palm OS models is the reason that platform enjoys such a strong market share. “From an individual purchaser’s perspective, the design and features of devices like the Palm OS 5.0 based Sony NX70V stand out from the crowd. Pocket PC vendors are finding it harder to differentiate themselves. In the enterprise market, having a choice of several vendors with similar, standardized offerings is very beneficial, but that market hasn’t taken off yet. Its time will come, but while the individual retail purchaser remains the main buyer of handhelds the market share pattern we see today is likely to prevail.”

2002 Shipments for Each Company

Gartner Dataquest has released its preliminary figures for shipments of handhelds worldwide and in the U.S. for all of 2002.

Palm had 36.8% of the worldwide handheld market last year. It shipped 4.4 million handhelds, which is a 12 point decrease from the previous year but still 2.8 million units more that Hewlett Packard, which holds the number two spot. HP had 13.5 % of the market, down from 16.9% in 2001. It shipped 1.6 million handhelds. Sony was the big winner for the year, jumping from 3.8% in 2001 to 11% of the market in 2002.

Handspring shipments dropped significantly during the year. However, Dataquest counts smartphones differently from handhelds so sales of the Treo line aren’t counted in Handspring’s 5.8% of the worldwide market. Last year, Handspring switched its focus from producing handhelds to making smartphones.

Toshiba shipped 450 thousand units during 2001 for 3.7% of the market. Casio was next with 3.3%, followed by Research in Motion (RIM) with 2.2%.

Palm also had the lead in the U.S. with a 46% share. Again, this was a decrease from the previous year. Sony beat out HP for the number two spot, more than tripling its shipments to 14.7%. HP had to settle for third place with 11.3% of the market, a significant drop from the 19.1% it held in the previous year.

Handspring’s shipments dropped off, too, though it’s difficult to judge by how much considering that Dataquest doesn’t include sales of most Treo models, as already mentioned. Toshiba was in fifth place with 4.0% and RIM was next with 3.3%.

Like the rest of the world, shipments of handhelds in the U.S. decreased last year. Total shipments went down 7.5% to 5.8 million.

In the competition between operating systems, Palm OS shipments totaled 6.7 million units, which represented 55.2% of worldwide shipments. The various versions of Windows CE, including Pocket PC, totaled 3.1 million units, for 25.7% of all units.

Market research firm Canalys has released figures for Europe, Middle East, and Africa during the fourth quarter of last year. Surprisingly, sales of handhelds went up 2% in this reason to 793 thousand.

As in the rest of the world,Palm is in the lead with 48% of the market. As mentioned earlier, its sales are up 19% compared with the same quarter in 2001.

HP is in second place with 19% of the market; however, this is a significant drop from the previous year when it had 27%. Last year, HP and Compaq merged and sales of the two company’s handhelds are being reported together.

Sony is in third place with 10% of the market. Its sales almost doubled during the year. Casio has 5% of the EMEA market and Toshiba has 3%.

Related Links

  • Gartner Dataquest Press Release
  • Palm OS is hot again

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