PDA Sales Continue to Decline

Handheld devices continued to fall out of favor with consumers, according to a report released by market research firm IDC. In the third quarter of 2005, handheld sales fell 8.8 percent compared with last quarter, and 16.9 percent year over year.

Even with the declines, device manufacturers are continuing to release new products, many featuring some type of wireless connectivity. While IDC expects an uptick in sales sequentially from quarter to quarter, sales will likely miss last year's numbers.

"The combination of tremendous competition from converged mobile devices with waning consumer demand for handhelds is forcing manufacturers to search for new or improved solutions that leverage existing hardware and software capabilities," wrote Ramon Llamas, research analyst with IDC.

Llamas said the new features being added to the latest handhelds is a good first step, but will not be the cure to turn around the industry. "Finding and expanding more solutions to modern mobile consumers and enterprises have become imperatives for the handheld market to drive growth," he explained.

Among the notable findings in the IDC study was a 10.8 percent sequentially and 22.8 percent year-over-year decline in shipments of Palm devices. The study also found that, for the first time, connected devices outsold non-connected versions of Palm products. Even with the decline, Palm still leads the PDA market.

Acer, a relative unknown in the handheld market, grew 5.3 percent sequentially; but saw a whopping 421 percent jump in shipments versus last year. IDC says the thinning out of the PDA industry has benefited the company, especially in the Eurasian market.

Overall, the top five companies in terms of PDA market share in the third quarter were Palm with 33.8 percent; HP, 23.6 percent; Acer, 11.2 percent; Dell 9.6 percent; and Mio, 5.1 percent.

Mio, like Acer, is relatively new to the handheld device market. However, its GPS-enabled products have struck a chord among consumers and it was able to jump into the top five, beating out previous number five manufacturer Yakumo.

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