Despite retail discounting, worldwide shipments of personal digital assistants (PDAs) only managed a one per cent increase in the third quarter of this year.
According to analyst Gartner, worldwide PDA shipments totalled 2.6 million units in the third quarter of 2002, a 0.9 per cent increase on the same period last year.
Shipments for the first three quarters of 2002 were down 8.3 per cent on last year, and Gartner said that the market will need an exceptionally strong last three months of the year to maintain worldwide growth in 2002.
Western Europe faired slightly better, with three per cent growth, but the analyst warned that it flattered to deceive as the third quarter last year was particularly poor.
Palm, Hewlett Packard and Sony accounted for 58 per cent of all PDA shipments worldwide in the third quarter of 2002, and Microsoft licensees topped 30 per cent for the first time, according to Gartner.
Palm also had more than 30 per cent market share, while Sony and Toshiba showed the strongest growth.
Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza told vnunet.com: "Many vendors cut pricing in the quarter to get rid of old inventory and make way for new devices being launched for the holiday season, and this generated some demand.
"However, there is increased price pressure in this market and there is a need for a lower cost device.
"Dell will enter the market at the end of the year and this will bring further price pressures. It is good for users as prices will go down, but other vendors will need to renew their strategies.
"In Europe this will result in some players exiting the market."
Steve Muttram, managing director at distributor Portable, told vnunet.com that discounting had been a feature of the consumer market but not so much with corporate sales.
"When PDAs are sold as a solution, with software and bandwidth accelerators, margin is less sensitive," he explained.
Muttram added that the corporate sector had been affected by the overall slowdown, with many firms still at the trial stage.
"But the last few months have been more promising for rollouts. The Toshiba E740 has done particularly well. It is a fantastic corporate device," he said.
Toshiba has also enjoyed strong UK laptop sales, meanwhile, with figures from analyst IDC showing that it retained a two-point market lead in the third quarter of the year.
The firm now has a 19.1 per cent unit market share, up one per cent on spring figures. Toshiba also cited a year-on-year growth rate of 33.8 per cent, compared to 13.9 per cent for the total UK laptop market.
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