PDA Sales Increase Sharply

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The first three months of 2005 were kind to companies that sell PDAs, with demand for wireless e-mail leading to a sharp increase in unit shipments during the period, according to market analyst Gartner.

Worldwide PDA sales during the first quarter totaled 3.4 million units, compared to sales of 2.7 million during the same period last year, Gartner says. The 25-percent gain in shipments was the largest ever percentage gain for PDA sales during the first quarter, it says, noting that it did not count sales of smart phones, such as PalmOne's Treo 650.

At the same time, the average selling price of PDAs rose by 15 percent to $406, the highest since Gartner began tracking PDA prices in 2000, it says.

PDAs with integrated WLAN (wireless LAN) and cell-phone capabilities accounted for around 55 percent of all PDAs shipped during the first quarter, Gartner says. Demand for these functions was largely driven by users' desire for wireless e-mail access, it says, noting that devices with QWERTY keyboards and relatively large displays had been top sellers.

RIM Makes Waves

If the first quarter was good to PDA vendors, it was especially kind to Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the popular BlackBerry device. RIM's shipments rose 76 percent during the first quarter to 711,000 units, Gartner says. Dell also did well, with its PDA shipments up 33 percent to 217,000 units, it says.

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 accounted for 18 percent, Gartner says.

On the software side, Microsoft's Windows CE operating system was the top PDA operating system during the first quarter, with a 46-percent share of the market.

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