PDA market suffers at hand of feature-packed phones

Worldwide shipments of personal digital assistants (PDAs) continued to decline in the third quarter of this year as mobile phones with similar functions claimed a portion of their market, Gartner said this week.

Global PDA shipments slipped 0.2 percent in the third quarter to 2.52 million units, resulting in the eighth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines.

What's more, the market slump would have been even more profound had Hewlett-Packard (HP) not refreshed its product line with a series of lower-priced PDAs and offered operating system upgrades to its installed base, Gartner said. HP introduced five new models in the quarter, the researcher said, and grabbed 23.1 percent of the market share with 581,414 units shipped.

HP managed to increase the number of units it shipped during the quarter by 98.5 percent.

Palm was the leading PDA provider during the quarter, however, taking 34.2 percent of the market with 861,500 units shipped.

Sony came in third with 10.1 percent of the market and 255,360 units shipped, although it lost ground, shipping 24.1 percent fewer PDAs than it did in the year-ago quarter.

Meanwhile, PDA newcomer Dell claimed approximately 5.5 percent of the market with 137,400 units shipped. Dell introduced its first PDA offerings late last year, and has since leapfrogged rivals like Toshiba Corp. and Research in Motion Ltd. However, the company has recently said that it doesn't see a large opportunity in the market over the long term.

Gartner said that the PDA market continues to be hampered by the fact that nearly 70 percent of all devices are paid for by consumers, rather than companies. New mobile phone features like calendars and address books are also taking a share of the PDA market, Gartner said.

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