Global handheld market declines 22.3%

New Delhi, April 28 | Updated: Apr 29 2006, 05:30am hrs
The worldwide handheld market is declining. According to analyst firm IDC, the worldwide market for handheld devices began 2006 with its ninth consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline. Shipments of handheld devices were down 22.3% at 1.5 million units, from the same quarter a year ago.

Dell recorded the most decline in shipments at 34% followed by HP (30%) and Palm (23%). Palm continues to be the global handheld leader followed by HP, Dell, Acer and Mio.

The decline is primarily due to competition from mobile phone vendors who are incorporating same features. Despite the incorporation of features like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, expandable memory, and integrated GPS solutions, the handheld market continues to shrink. Many of these same features can be found on mobile phones. Inclusion of telephony extends the usability of mobile phones over that of handheld devices.

"A decline in shipments following the holiday quarter is expected of mature markets, and the handheld devices market is no different. After nine consecutive quarters of year-over-year decline, many are wondering how long this trend will continue, and whether the market will see a reverse," says Ramon Llamas, research analyst with IDC's Mobile Markets team.

Still, vendors continue to search for ways to keep their products viable within this space by appealing to first-time and core users, or even joining the converged mobile device space.

With shipments 23.3% lower than a year ago, Palm was still buoyed by the success of the Palm Tungsten E2 and the Palm Z22 handheld. At the same time, shipments of Palm's line of Treo smartphones continue to increase, surpassing shipments of its handheld devices.

HP remains the worldwide leader in Microsoft-powered handheld devices. The company's converged mobile device line also had a year-over-year decrease, but new devices are expected to ship later this year.

Despite a decline of 33.8% in shipments from a year ago, Dell remained the number three vendor worldwide. As Dell's Axim x30 and x50 model lines have reached the end if their product life cycles, Dell has emphasized its x51 lines, which offer greater processing power and features over the other models.