Worldwide shipments of PDAs were either slightly down or slightly up during the third quarter, depending on the analyst you follow.
Gartner said worldwide shipments of PDAs fell 0.2 percent in the third quarter over the same quarter in 2002, according to its preliminary report. However, sales in the United States increased 5.2 percent for the quarter, it said.
On the other hand, IDC reported worldwide shipments rose 1.1 percent.
Both research firms agreed Hewlett-Packard was the star performer this quarter as it introduced five new PocketPC models, many of which were well received.
According to IDC, the top three performers in the third quarter were Palm with 35.6 percent worldwide market share, HP with 24.5 percent, and Sony with 11.5 percent share.
Gartner's figures differed by up to 3 percentage points in market share. Gartner said Palm and HP increased their shares by 6.5 percent and 98.5 percent, respectively, while Sony lost share by 24.1 percent.
In the U.S. market, Palm's third quarter share was 42.2 percent, down .6 percent and HP's share was 9.8 percent, up by 117.1 percent, said Gartner. Sony, with a 20 percent U.S. share saw a 33.3 percent decline for the quarter of the same quarter last year, Gartner said.
"Sony comes out with about 10 new PDAs a year and they really haven't hit a home run lately. The NX-70, which was shipping a year ago, was the first PDA with a digital camera so it did pretty well," said Todd Kort, Gartner principal analyst for computing platforms worldwide group. However, he noted, "Palm took a lot of the low-end PDA/camera market back with the Zire 71."
Gartner and IDC offered bearish forecasts for the market going forward. "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," said IDC associate research analyst for Mobile Devices David Linsalata.
Gartner said Smartphone sales, while still limited in the U.S., were significant enough to slow down sales of PDAs. In addition, the enterprise market has been slow to adopt the PDA format.
In a worldwide overview, sales of PDAs have slowed in the Far East, as digital cameras have knocked PDAs out of the "must have" product slot, said Kort.
Although Smartphones will continue to overshadow traditional PDA sales in both U.S. and worldwide markets, enterprise sales should begin to pick up next year, said Kort. "A new generation of WiFi-based devices are about to launch, and these are attractive to the enterprise for field service personnel as well as senior executives and people that need a lot of data," Kort said, adding that currently "approximately 70 percent of all PDAs are purchased by consumers with their own funds."
Worldwide PDA Vendor Shipments*
U.S. PDA Vendor Shipments*