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The market of personal digital assistants (PDAs) increased nearly one third year over year in the second quarter of 2005, according to a recent report from research company Gartner. The firm believes that boost in PDA sales was conditioned by attractive prices on PDAs in Europe as well as well as necessity to perform certain tasks on the go.

“The steady growth in the PDA market can be attributed to a combination of factors. Wireless PDAs are increasingly seen as an adjunct or alternative to notebook computers, while favorable exchange rates have enabled more Europeans to purchase PDAs at an attractive price. These factors have aided in the recovery of the slumping PDA market of 2002-2004,” said Todd Kort, principal analyst in Gartner’s Computing Platforms Worldwide group. Symbian OS occupies 7.6% of the market, the exact market share of Nokia’s smartphones on the market, whereas Linux was used on 0.8% of PDAs.

Worldwide PDA shipments totaled 3.6 million units in the second quarter of 2005, a 32% increase from the same period last year. Gartner believes that the market is on track to reach 15 million units shipped by the end of 2005, surpassing the record 13.2 million shipped in 2001.

The Western European PDA market grew 94% to 1.3 million units in the second quarter of 2005. Western Europe accounted for 37% of worldwide shipments, up from 25% a year ago. PDA shipments in the United States totaled 1.4 million units, a 1.3% increase. The stagnant U.S. market is the result of the continuing decline in Palm OS PDA shipments, and aging product lines among Microsoft licensees. PDA shipments in Asia/Pacific grew 24.7% with approximately 402 000 unit shipments.

Notes: Totals do not include smartphones, such as the Treo 650 and BlackBerry 7100, but include wireless PDAs, such as the iPAQ 6315 and Nokia 9300. Columns may not add to totals shown because of rounding.

Research in Motion (RIM), whose BlackBerry devices are used by a lot of business users, has become the world’s leading supplier of PDAs in the second quarter 2005, ahead of Palm and HP. During the Q2 2005 shipments of the company’s BlackBerry soared 64.7% year-over-year.  Dell and HP’s market share continued to suffer, however, refreshes to their aging product lines are expected in the second half of 2005, Gartner said. Strong growth in shipments of T-Mobile’s Sidekick II and Pocket PC Phone Edition devices pushed Dell out of the top 5 ranking.

Microsoft maintained its position as the leading PDA operating system (OS) supplier, as it accounted for 46% of worldwide shipments in the second quarter of 2005. In the battle for the second position, RIM extended its lead over Palm OS with 23.2% of the market. Palm OS PDA shipments declined 40.9% from a year ago, which is also a result of Sony's withdrawal from the PDA market, the OS is now installed in 18.8% of personal digital assistants. Symbian OS occupies 7.6% of the market, the exact market share of Nokia’s smartphones on the market, whereas Linux was used on 0.8% of PDAs.

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.


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