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Traditional PDA Sales Slide, Cellular PDAs Increasing

Framingham, Mass. — Worldwide shipments of traditional PDAs continued their downward slide for the tenth consecutive quarter, according to IDC.

Shipments fell 26.3 percent to 1.4 million units in the second quarter compared with a year ago. For the first half of the year, vendors shipped a total of 2.9 million units, down 21.4 percent. IDC considers PDAs to be non-connected handhelds that do not include cellular capability.

IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said, “Looking ahead, we expect additional quarters of decline and a flattening out of shipment activity before a return to growth. In order to do that, vendors must discover more market segments, relevant applications, and improved usability beyond personal information management.” The company said that features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS have helped to slow the rate of decline.

Sales in the PDA category are a bit brighter if models with data0centric cellular capability are included in the mix, such as the Danger Sidekick, said the research firm Gartner, based in Stamford, Conn. This category, which excludes smart phones, that are phone-centric vs. data-centric, was up 12.3 percent over last year in the United States with vendor shipments reaching 1.577 million units, according to Gartner.

Cellular PDAs are a healthy growth segment, he said. Two years ago they represented only a third of the total PDA market. They now represent 52 percent and are growing in share at a rate of 5-9 percent a year, said principal analyst Todd Kort.

Kort does not believe that un-connected, non-cellular PDAs will ever see resurgence.

“The low end PDAs won’t go away completely, but I don’t see them ever making a comeback. I see the market slowly dwindling,” he said.

In U.S. market share for the second quarter, Gartner said Research in Motion (RIM) had a 35.1 percent share, with sales down 3 percent for the quarter compared to last year. Palm had an 18.7 percent market share with sales down 18.1 percent. Newcomer Motorola won a 9.8 percent share of the market followed by Danger at 8.9 percent and Hewlett-Packard at 5.1 percent.