Handheld device market in flux

The handheld device market is contracting as a result of changes the role of such devices in a new wireless environment.

The handheld device market is contracting as a result of changes the role of such devices in a new wireless environment.

Market research from IDC in January 2004 has revealed that the total handheld market shipments last year decreased 17.9% to 10.4 million units; compared to 12.6 million by the end of 2002. In the last quarter of 2003, shipments were boosted by Christmas period sales largely due to strong performances by palmOne and Hewlett-Packard whose small form factor iPAQ 4150-offering Bluetooth and wireless LAN capability-was particularly popular.

Looking at the broader picture, IDC believes that this full-year decline matches the changing role of the handheld device in a mobile-telephony energized world.

"With a growing number of vendors and products that combine both personal information management (PIM) capability and telephony, consumers are moving away from devices that offer only PIM capability. HP and palmOne enjoyed particular success during the holiday buying season by offering handheld devices with features beyond PIM that cannot be found in a mobile phone," commented   David Linsalata, analyst in IDC's Mobile Devices program.

"Going forward, handheld device vendors must continue to differentiate and expand into hot product categories, such as media players and digital cameras, to renew growth in their market."

This article was part of Computer Weekly's enterprise mobile business channel, sponsored by Nokia

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