Worldwide PDA shipments totalled 3.7 million units in the second quarter of 2006, a 2.7 percent increase from the second quarter of 2005, according to Gartner. This was the highest PDA shipment total of any second quarter on record.
Much of the growth in the PDA market in the second quarter of 2006 was generated by vendors that were not among the first-tier one year ago, such as Mio Technology, Motorola and Danger Research. Meanwhile, last year's first-tier vendors -- Research In Motion (RIM), Palm, Hewlett-Packard and Dell -- have had steady-to-declining shipments, Gartner adds.
"The ongoing integration of WAN technology into PDAs, and the marketing push of these devices by wireless operators has produced most of the growth compared to one year ago," says Todd Kort, principal analyst in Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group.
"The average selling price of PDAs fell by 6 percent from one year ago to US$373, mostly due to aging product lines, the increasing impact of wireless operator subsidies and relatively few new PDAs being launched thus far in 2006," Kort says. "As a result, worldwide PDA end-user revenue fell by 4.1 percent from one year ago to $1.38 billion in the second quarter of 2006."
Despite a PDA shipment decline of 1.1 percent, RIM was still the worldwide leader, accounting for 22.5 percent of worldwide PDA shipments. RIM shipped nearly 1.3 million BlackBerry units in the second quarter of 2006, up by 41 percent from one year ago. However, 467,000 units are excluded from this analysis because these BlackBerry 71xx models are classified as smartphones.
"There are quite a few more cellular PDA models with keyboards in the market now than there were one year ago, but none are seriously challenging RIM's strong position in enterprise accounts," Kort says.
Palm's PDA shipments declined by 27 percent from the same period last year. However, Gartner analysts pointed out that this was not such a bad performance considering that Palm has not introduced any new PDAs since late 2005, and the company is focused on the Treo. Treo shipments totalled 656 000, but these are excluded from Gartner's PDA numbers because they are smartphones.
HP's iPAQ business continued to struggle in the second quarter as its shipments fell by 15 percent, its worst quarter in nearly four years. The iPAQ 69xx series began shipping in Europe in July, providing some hope for a reversal of this slide.
Mio Technology has succeeded with a PDA product line that is focused on GPS navigation. Mio is now the largest PDA vendor in Europe, and it is ranked second behind HP in the Asia/Pacific region.
Microsoft's Windows Mobile extended its lead over other PDA platforms, as it accounted for 54.2 percent of PDA OS shipments. RIM OS accounted for 22.5 percent of the market, followed by Palm OS at 13.4 percent.
Gartner defines a PDA as a data-centric handheld computer weighing less than one pound that is primarily designed for use with both hands. These devices use an open market operating system supported by third-party applications that can be added into the device by end-users.
They offer instant on/off capability and synchronization of files with a PC. A PDA may offer WAN support for voice, but these are data-first, voice-second devices. Smartphones offer all the attributes of a PDA, except that smartphones are voice-centric, and are primarily designed for one-handed operation.