Worldwide Shipments of Handhelds Up Almost 40 Percent

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Shipments of Windows Mobile devices grew 64 percent in the first quarter of this year, and this strong growth helped propel worldwide handheld shipments to 5.1 million units, a 39.7 percent increase from the same quarter of 2006.

These numbers are from Gartner’s report on the PDA market, which covers both traditional handhelds and cellular-wireless handhelds. It does not include devices that this market-research firm classifies as smartphones, such as Palm, Inc.’s Treo line.

Results by OS

Devices running Windows Mobile surpassed 3.1 million units, and accounting for 62.1 percent of all shipments in the first quarter of 2007.

Microsoft’s operating system may dominate this category, but Research in Motion is the single leading producer of devices, giving the BlackBerry OS an 18.1 percent market share.

With Palm’s best selling models in a different classification, the Palm OS accounted for only 6.1 percent of the handheld market.

“With Windows Mobile device shipments up over 1.2 million units from the first quarter of 2006, Microsoft has achieved a dominant position in the market for data-centric devices. However, Microsoft has faltered in the much larger smartphone market,” said Mr. Kort. “The reverse is true for Symbian and Nokia. RIM seems to be the only company making a balanced effort, although it still has a lot of catching up to do in the smartphone market.”

What’s In a Name?

As mentioned earlier, these results are only for shipments of devices that Garner classifies as PDAs, not smartphones.

Gartner defines a PDA as a data-centric handheld computer weighing less than one pound that is primarily designed for use with both hands. These devices use an open market operating system supported by third-party applications that can be added into the device by end users. They offer instant on/off capability and synchronization of files with a PC. A PDA may offer WAN support for voice, but these are data-first, voice-second devices.

Smartphones offer all the attributes of a PDA, except that smartphones are voice-centric and are designed for primarily a one-handed operation.

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