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PDA - PIM Handheld Global Market Declines

The worldwide market for handheld devices swelled to its largest quarterly shipment volume all year, reaching 2.2 million units during the fourth quarter, growing 37.6 percent from the previous quarter. According to IDC's Worldwide Handheld QView, growth was driven largely by a combination of holiday sales and larger shipment volumes of devices that were introduced earlier in the year.

But despite reaching its zenith during the year, shipment volumes decreased 18.2 percent from the same quarter a year ago. For full year 2005, shipments of handheld devices reached 7.5 million units, a 16.7 percent decrease from the 9.1 million units shipped in 2004.

"Vendors with a global footprint still lead the worldwide market, but more and more, vendors with a multi- or even a single region focus have earned top five worldwide status with their focused shipment distribution," said Ramon Llamas, research analyst at IDC's Mobile Markets group. "The departure of other worldwide vendors has opened the door for smaller vendors to improve their position within the market. During the course of the year, several smaller vendors remained within striking distance of beating each other for the number four or five position, and even posed a challenge to some of the worldwide vendors."

Although the market has been under immense pressure by the rise in shipments of converged mobile devices (devices that combine the PIM functionality of a handheld device with telephony), Llamas adds that vendors still remain committed to the handheld market. "New devices continue to come out from the market leaders, aimed at different user types and offered at different price points. With the addition of GPS solutions, multimedia capability, and WiFi connectivity, handhelds offer additional value beyond just PIM for the user."

Vendor Highlights

Palm -- Palm maintained its position as the worldwide leader within the handheld device market, reaching its highest shipment volumes all year. Palm grew its shipments 109.7 percent from last quarter, but also experienced a 13.2 percent decline from the same quarter a year ago. With 45.6 percent market share, the company more than doubled the second-place vendor, HP.

Hewlett-Packard -- Growing 16.9 percent from last quarter, HP remained the clear number two vendor of handheld devices for the quarter, claiming 20.8 percent market share. Although this marked yet another positive sequential increase for HP, its shipments decreased 33.1 percent year over year, the largest decrease among the top five vendors. HP more than doubled the shipments of the number three worldwide vendor, Dell.

Dell -- Climbing one spot into the number three position is Dell, which improved its shipment volumes 10.2 percent from last quarter, but slipped 9.2 percent from the same quarter a year ago. As a result, Dell grabbed 8.0 percent worldwide market share. With several models reaching end of life at the beginning of the quarter, the company experienced strong fourth quarter demand with the X51 series. Although this marked Dell's return to the number three position after a two quarter hiatus, its position is hardly secure with Acer following behind by just 50,000 units.

Acer -- After enjoying two quarters in the number three spot, Acer's worldwide shipment volumes decreased 33.1 percent sequentially, the only vendor among the top five to experience a sequential decline. At the same time, Acer was the only vendor among the top five to have a positive year-over-year improvement at an impressive 110.4 percent. By the end of the quarter, Acer earned 5.7 percent worldwide market share.

Medion -- Rounding out and returning to the top five vendor list after a two quarter absence is Medion, whose shipments grew an astounding 287.8 percent from the previous quarter, the largest sequential increase of any of the top five vendors. When compared to its volumes from a year ago, shipments decreased 15.7 percent. Unlike the top four vendors, the majority of Medion's shipments have been confined within Western Europe, making it the only company with a single regional footprint to earn top five worldwide honors, and ultimately took 4.3 percent market share.

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