The global PDA market hit a record high in 2006 driven by demand for mobile data access, in particular wireless email, according to market watcher Gartner.
In total, 17.7 million units were shipped during 2006, Gartner claimed, an 18.4 increase on 2005, which saw 14.9 million units shipped. In addition, 60 per cent of all PDAs shipped offered cellular connectivity, up from 47 per cent in 2005.
Research in Motion, with its BlackBerry device, continued to lead the PDA market with 19.8 per cent market share, but the vendor’s product mix has been rapidly shifting towards smartphones away from the traditional PDA, which Gartner has predicted will become a general trend. Palm was second with 11 per cent market share, a significant drop on its 18.5 market share in 2005. Hewlett-Packard was third with 9.7 per cent of the market, a drop from 15.1 per cent in 2005.
Speaking to CRN, Roberta Cozza, principle analyst at Gartner, said: “It is mostly the demand for wireless email that is driving interest around PDAs, particularly those with integrated wireless keyboards.”
Cozza said demand for wireless email is going to be the main driver for the market over the next two years.
“Up until a couple of years ago, mobile email was only for niche users,” she added. “But now with Microsoft offering direct push email on devices, the barriers of cost and adoption are coming down.”
Darren Hilton, sales director of VAR Handheld PCs, agreed with Gartner’s findings.
“We are shipping a lot of smartphone devices in the PDA style as part of our broader wireless solution,” he said. “We are also seeing particular interest around 02 Orbit devices, which have GPS built into them, and the 02 XDA Exec, which has a slide-out keyboard. The Nokia e-Series range is also doing very well for us.
“We think that the market will keep growing, particularly as the manufacturers continue to innovate and allow resellers to offer a complete mobile working strategy to our customers.”
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