"There will always be a handheld market. But going forward, the converged device (smart phone) will generally have a larger market," Linsalata said.
HP posted the strongest quarter of any of the major vendors. Its shipments grew 24.8 percent in the first quarter of 2004 compared to last year's first quarter, although it was not immune to the sequential drop that plagued the rest of the industry as it came off the fourth quarter.
HP's strength comes from its wide-ranging product line, which offers users a choice of highly capable PDAs at multiple price points starting with the h1940 series at around US$300 to the h5000 series at around $650, Linsalata said.
Sony Corp. came in third place for the quarter, but posted an alarming 49.6 percent drop in shipments from the first quarter of last year to this year's first quarter. Sony is in the middle of a switch from marketing multimedia features to improving PIM capabilities, Linsalata said.
Dell Inc. improved its first-quarter 2004 shipments by 2.2 percent over the first quarter of 2003 to finish in fourth place. Toshiba Corp. regained the fifth spot from German vendor Medion AG, which did not repeat its strong fourth quarter performance despite a solid quarter for Western Europe, Linsalata said.
IDC is a division of International Data Group, the parent company of the IDG News Service.