Mobile data access, particularly wireless e-mail, drove the worldwide PDA market to record shipments of 17.7 million units in 2006, an 18.4% increase from 2005, according to analyst firm Gartner.
Gartner analyst Todd Kort said, “Sixty percent of all PDAs shipped in 2006 offered cellular connectivity, up from 47% in 2005.”
Kort said that 48% of all PDAs shipped in 2006 were bought by enterprises. This was about the same percentage as the previous year, due to strong sales to consumers and “prosumers” of devices, such as the Sidekick 3 from Sharp, MIO Technology GPS devices and the Motorola Q.
RIM and its Blackberry range continued to lead the PDA market, but its product mix was rapidly shifting towards smartphones, following the September launch of the Blackberry Pearl, said Kort.
RIM shipped more than 1.8 million Blackberry devices in the fourth quarter of 2006, with 915,000 estimated to be PDAs, and the remainder estimated to be smartphones. The company’s PDA growth slowed by 10% to 3,510,927 units, out of a total of about 6.2 million Blackberry devices shipped in 2006.
Palm and HP were the number two and three device shippers respectively. RIM had 19.8% of the market, Palm had 11.1%, and HP held 9.7%.
Microsoft’s Windows CE was the most widely used PDA operating system, with 56.1% of the market.