Worldwide Shipments of Handhelds Up, Thanks to HP

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The worldwide market for handheld devices actually grew in the third quarter of 2003. According to market researcher IDC, device shipments rose by 1.1% when compared with the same quarter last year and increased sequentially by 9.4% to 2.37 million units. Palm maintained its top position in the market, while HP rose sharply, distancing itself from Sony and moving closer to the top spot. In fact, IDC credits most of the increase in worldwide shipments to the introduction of several New iPAQ Models by Hewlett-Packard.

“This quarter’s performance represents a rare positive sign in a handheld device market fighting competition and harsh consumer and enterprise spending conditions. While personal information management has proven to be the killer application for more than 25 million users worldwide, handheld devices must evolve with new segments, applications, and technologies if the market is to remain relevant,? said David Linsalata, associate research analyst in IDC’s Mobile Devices program. ?Unless holiday season demand proves particularly positive, the handheld device market will decline more steeply in 2003 than in 2002 as it returns to 2000 levels.”

Palm’s market share declined from 41.8% in the second quarter to 35.6% this last quarter due to slower than expected end-of-summer sales of current models. However, Palm launched three new devices at the beginning of this month, the Zire 21, Tungsten E, and Tungsten T3, which IDC believes are poised to build on the strong sales of their predecessors.

HP experienced a leap in market share from 17.6% in the second quarter to 24.5% last quarter. This came on the strength of five new devices released at the beginning of summer as well as the introduction of the h1935 during this past quarter. IDC says the recent release of the h4000 series should allow HP to continue its newfound momentum. However, it should be pointed out this increase follows on the company’s 16.7% sequential drop during the second quarter.

Despite a slight increase in sales, Sony’s market share declined from 11.9% in the second quarter of this year to 11.5% last quarter, which IDC credits to increasing shipments from HP.

Dell experienced solid growth in the Asia/Pacific market, but this gain was offset by slower sales in Europe and an aging Axim product line. However, IDC predicts that Dell’s recent introduction of the Axim X3 and Axim X3i should once again spur sales during the current quarter.

With the introduction of the e350 and the e750 in late June, Toshiba maintained its position as the number 5 vendor in the handheld market and experienced a slight gain in market share from 3.5% in the second quarter to 3.6% last quarter. It’s possible that last week’s release of the first Pocket PC with a VGA screen will help increase Toshiba’s sales this quarter.

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