Fuelled by particularly strong growth in RIM's BlackBerry shipments, worldwide PDA shipments increased 6.6 per cent in 2004, Gartner reported today.
According to the analyst firm, increased average selling prices drove worldwide PDA revenue to a record $4.3bn in 2004, a 16.7 per cent increase on the year before. In the fourth quarter of 2004, the average price of PDAs reached $353, up 9.4 per cent from 2003.
"The PDA market has shifted from unconnected organisers overwhelmingly purchased by consumers to a market in which 44 per cent of the devices shipped in 2004 offered integrated wireless and/or wireless Lan connectivity," said Todd Kort, principal analyst at Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group.
"Wireless PDAs generally have higher average selling prices, driving the market to record revenue. Another factor is that nearly half of all PDAs are now purchased, or reimbursed, by enterprises."
The research found that RIM experienced the largest growth rate on a revenue and shipment basis. "A major factor in RIM's recent success has been its ability to rapidly add many new carrier partners, expanding its geographical reach," explained Kort.
Approximately one fifth of RIM's fourth-quarter shipments were in Europe, and the company is poised to become the world's leading PDA vendor in units and revenue in 2005, according to Gartner.
HP's PDAs had an estimated average selling price of $430, producing end-user revenue of $1.132bn in 2004, which accounted for 26 per cent of PDA revenue.
Gartner reported that PalmOne continued to ship more PDAs than any other vendor in 2004, but experienced a 10.7 per cent decline in worldwide PDA shipments in 2004 despite the retreat of Sony from the market.
Gartner's totals do not include smartphones, such as the Treo 600 or BlackBerry 7100, but include wireless PDAs, such as the iPAQ 6315.
Windows CE steadily gained share in the PDA operating system market, accounting for 37.7 per cent worldwide in 2003.
In 2004, Windows CE became the top PDA operating system when it accounted for 43 per cent of shipments. Palm OS has slipped from 50 per cent in 2003 to 36.3 per cent in 2004.
"Microsoft-based PDAs have gained favour mostly due to their affinity with the Windows PC market and Microsoft's ability to attract more than 30 licensees around the globe," said Kort.
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