May 04, 2005, 10:15 AM — The first three months of 2005 were kind to companies that sell PDAs (personal digital assistants), with demand for wireless e-mail leading to a sharp increase in unit shipments during the period, according to market analyst Gartner Inc.
Worldwide PDA sales during the first quarter totalled 3.4 million [M] units, compared to sales of 2.7 million during the same period last year, Gartner said. The 25-percent gain in shipments was the largest ever percentage gain for PDA sales during the first quarter, it said, noting that it did not count sales of smart phones, such as PalmOne Inc.'s Treo 650.
At the same time, the average selling price (ASP) of PDAs rose by 15 percent to US$406, the highest since Gartner began tracking PDA prices in 2000, it said.
PDAs with integrated WLAN (wireless LAN) and cell-phone capabilities accounted for around 55 percent of all PDAs shipped during the first quarter, Gartner said. Demand for these functions was largely driven by users' desire for wireless e-mail access, it said, noting that devices with QWERTY keyboards and relatively large displays had been top sellers.
If the first quarter was good to PDA vendors, it was especially kind to Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the company behind the popular BlackBerry device. RIM's shipments rose 76 percent during the first quarter to 711,000 units, Gartner said. Dell Inc. also did well, with its PDA shipments up 33 percent to 217,000 units, it said.
Not everyone had a good quarter, though. PalmOne's PDA shipments tanked, dropping 26 percent compared to the first quarter of 2004. That drop knocked PalmOne out of the top spot among PDA vendors, passing the bragging rights for the greatest market share to RIM.
RIM accounted for 21 percent of worldwide PDA shipments during the first quarter while second-place PalmOne Inc. accounted for 18 percent, Gartner said.
On the software side, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system was the top PDA operating system during the first quarter, with a 46-percent share of the market.