Worldwide Handheld Market Up Over 13 Percent

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The number of handhelds shipped worldwide was up 13.3 percent last quarter, according to figures from market-research company Gartner Dataquest.

Compared with the same quarter last year, palmOne’s shipments fell by 13.3 percent, while HP’s were up 19.6 percent.

This led to a situation that has never happened before: there were more Pocket PCs shipped last quarter than Palm OS devices.

Shipments of RIM’s BlackBerry wireless handhelds shot up dramatically, putting it in third place in the operating system race.

A Very Bad Quarter for the Palm OS

The Palm OS has led the handheld market since the mid-1990’s, but this is no longer true.

According to Gartner Dataquest, shipments of Palm OS handhelds in the third quarter of 2004 were about 25 percent lower than the worst previous quarter since 1999.

Shipments of Palm OS handhelds are on track to decline about 23 percent this year, to about 4.4 million units.

At the same time, a rise in shipments of Pocket PC models is going on. Shipments of Pocket PCs this year are expected to increase about 15 percent over 2003, to about 5 million units.

These trends led to Microsoft licensees shipping over 60 percent more devices last quarter than PalmSource licensees did.

Although smartphones such as the Treo 600 aren’t factored into these figures, even if Palm OS smartphone shipments were included, this quarter would still represent one of the lowest points for the Palm OS in the last five years.

Another Good Quarter for BlackBerry

Unlike the Palm OS and Pocket PC, RIM is the only company making handhelds that run its BlackBerry operating system. RIM is doing very well, and therefore so is the BlackBerry platform. Shipments increased 356.5 percent last quarter.

Worldwide, RIM is behind both palmOne and HP, but the U.S. is a different story. More than 30 percent more RIM BlackBerries were shipped in this country than HP iPAQs.

Results by Company

palmOne, the chief Palm OS licensee, still holds the top spot in handheld shipments, with 26.2 percent of the world market. However, as mentioned earlier, this is a decline of 13.3 percent over the same quarter a year ago.

HP, the top Pocket PC licensee, is in second place with 24.2 percent of the world market.

RIM’s 19.8 percent of the handheld market puts it in third place.

Although Dell has a relatively small share of the world handheld market, just 6.5 percent, its sales are up 37.4 percent over the same quarter a year ago. Plus, it has a larger percent of the U.S. handheld market, 9.1 percent.

Rounding out the top five, Symbol Technologies (maker of handhelds for industrial purposes) has 2.2 percent of the world market.

Looking ahead, Gartner Dataquest predicts that palmOne’s share of the market will increase during the current quarter, as its models are more likely to be given as gifts during the holiday season, but either RIM or HP could take the lead in shipments for the first time during the first quarter of 2005.

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