Handhelds Hit Slump in 2002

A PDA in every palm may not be realized any time soon, according to research from Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner, Inc., that indicates an estimated 9.1 percent decline in handheld shipments in 2002 from 2001.

Gartner Dataquest analysts said the industry has been impacted by a lack of significant progress in wireless PDA, and the slow adoption of PDAs by enterprises. Gartner, Inc. had estimated in mid-2002 that an enterprise’s total cost of ownership for each handheld device could approach $3,000 per year, rising to $4,392 when additional hardware, software, support, service costs, and a wireless modem are included.

“We estimate that about 70 percent of all PDAs are purchased by consumers and only 30 percent by enterprises,” said Todd Kort, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest’s Computing Platforms Worldwide group. “The more lucrative enterprise market has been stagnant because of poor economic conditions and a perception that PDAs are not yet capable of delivering sufficient return on investment. The enterprise market is still another year away from embracing PDAs.”

Preliminary Worldwide PDA Vendor
Unit Shipment Estimates for 2002
Company 2002
Share (%)
Palm 4,438,730 36.8 5,055,918 38.1 -12.2
Hewlett-Packard 1,628,729 13.5 2,236,667 16.9 -27.2
Sony 1,332,666 11.0 506,358 3.8 163.2
Handspring 698,228 5.8 1,371,028 10.3 -49.1
Toshiba 450,298 3.7 12,000 0.1 3,652.5
Casio 396,890 3.3 514,594 3.9 -22.9
RIM 272,450 2.3 391,996 3.0 -30.5
Nokia 267,310 2.2 320,000 2.4 -16.5
Hi-Tech Wealth 257,378 2.1 203,090 1.5 26.7
Sharp 226,300 1.9 265,300 2.0 -14.7
Others 2,097,396 17.4 2,392,571 18.0 -12.3
Total 12,066,375 100.0 13,269,522 100.0 -9.1
Note: Does not include smart phones such as Handspring Treo 300.
Source: Gartner Dataquest (January 2003)

Palm emerged as the PDA leader, shipping nearly 4.5 million of the 12.1 million units in 2002, and despite a 12.2 percent decline, Palm’s shipments were more than double its nearest competitor, Hewlett-Packard. Toshiba’s 3000+ percent growth spurt is attributed to the company’s late arrival in the PDA market – Toshiba only began shipping PDAs in late 2001 in Japan, but it has since risen to become then fifth largest PDA vendor worldwide.

Palm’s strength apparently lies in the licensing of its operating system -– Palm OS shipments totaled 6.7 million units, which represented 55.2 percent of worldwide shipments, with Windows CE following at 3.1 million units or 25.7 percent.

In the U.S., Palm did not see a gain, but managed to hold onto the 80 percent share it boasted during the December 2001 holdiay period, according to weekly retail sales figures compiled by NPD Intelect in December 2002. Palm hailed that result, noting that the 2002 holiday season saw the introduction of lower-priced handhelds and increased promotional spending by licensees of rival operating systems.

Palm also cited NPD Intelect’s results as proof of large gains in the U.S. enterprise resellers market, with third quarter 2002 figures showing Palm Powered handhelds taking 72.9 percent of the market, up from 56.7 percent in the year-ago quarter.

Still, in November, International Data Corp. (IDC) said that a survey of about 1,000 members of its Mobile Advisory Council showed that while Palm OS remained entrenched in the healthcare, education and government vertical markets, Microsoft’s Windows CE/Pocket PC is now the preferred platform for mobility solutions within field sales/service and utilities segments.

The research firm also noted that Palm’s OS division held an 89 percent share of smart phones in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2002. In fact, IDC’s stats suggest that three of the top six worldwide smart phone vendors’ products were Palm Powered – Handspring and Treo 300; Kyocera’s 5135 Palm Powered flip-phone; and Samsung with its i330 smart phone. Other major players using Palm’s smart phone include Alphasmart, with its Dana device and the Sony Clie NX 70v.

In the next three months, Palm is banking on some new contracts in the first part of 2003 to boost its sales and market share including Fossil’s Wrist PDA with Palm OS, Garmin’s iQue 3600 GPS-enabled handheld, the Legend Pam168 Chinese-language handheld, and the Sony Clie NZ90 with a two megapixel camera.

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