The worldwide market for handheld devices has experienced its fourth successive quarter of sales decline, diving almost 19%.
In the fourth quarter of 2004 analyst IDC said handheld shipments slumped 18.7% (compared with the same quarter in 2003) to 2.8 million units.
For the full year worldwide handheld device shipments reached 9.2 million, a decrease of 13% over 2003’s shipments of 10.6 million units.
IDC said 2004 marked the first time since 1999 that worldwide handheld device shipments have slipped to under 10 million units, and it was the third straight year of decline since the market’s peak in 2001.
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IDC said the poor performance was underscored by the departure from the market during the year by major suppliers Sony and Toshiba.
The analyst said the market had received a seasonal boost in the fourth quarter as a result of GPS (global positional system) handhelds being bought for drivers at Christmas, but that manufacturers needed to find new reasons why such devices should be bought.
David Linsalata, analyst at IDC, said, "This drop stresses the urgent need for suppliers to evolve their devices beyond personal information management in order to return the market to a growth path."
Of the top five manufacturers by market share only Dell and Medion saw a slight rise in sales.