Handheld shipments soar in Europe

Shipments of handheld mobile devices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia soared 62% in the first quarter of 2004 compared with...

Shipments of handheld mobile devices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia soared 62% in the first quarter of 2004 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a market research report by Canalys.com.

Total shipments in the first quarter were 2.5 million units, compared with 1.5 million the year before.

The Canalys report focused on multifunction mobile devices such as PDAs and smart phones. It excludes mobile phones designed solely for telephony.

Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, remained the leading supplier of mobile devices in the region. The supplier increased shipments by 89% to 1.2 million, accounting for 48.4% of the market. It was followed by Hewlett-Packard with 251,530 shipments or 10.2% market share, and PalmOne with 250,310 units or 10.1%.

Siemens was among the top five with 82,970 units, capturing 3.4% of the market. The manufacturer trailed Sony Ericsson with 175,450 units or 7.1%.

The report differentiated between devices used primarily for data applications, such as PDAs, and smart phones used primarily for voice.

Demand was strongest for voice-centric smart phones, with shipments up 83% to 1.6 million from 885,980 in the first quarter of 2003.

Nokia retained its lead in this category with 1.2 million units, up 89% year on year, accounting for 73.8% of the market. The nearest competitor was Sony Ericsson with 175,450 units or 10.8%, followed by Siemens with 82,970 units or 5.1%.

Shipments of voice-centric smart phones with the operating system software supplied by Symbian were 1.5 million, up 83% year on year, accounting for 91.2% of the market. Microsoft was the second leading OS supplier with 7.8% market share, followed by PalmSource with 1%.
Data-centric handheld device shipments were up 33% in the first quarter to 852,570 compared with a year earlier. HP increased its shipments 56% year on year to 251,530, accounting for 29.5% of the market. In second place was PalmOne with 233,560 units or 27.4%, followed by Research In Motion with 68,460 or 8% and Dell with 43,120 or 5.1%.

Microsoft was the leading supplier of OS software for data-centric handhelds, with shipments up 57% to 487,030, accounting for 57.1% of the market. Second to the US software giant was PalmSource with 275,760 shipments or 32.3% market share.

"We expect the market for mobile devices to continue its strong growth curve," said Canalys analyst Rachel Lashford. "Growth will come not only from the introduction of new products but also a shift from individuals mostly buying handhelds to more and more corporations buying these devices for their mobile employees."

The line between voice-centric and data-centric devices will continue to blur, Lashford said, especially with the launch of products such as Motorola's new MPx smart phones.

John Blau writes for IDG News Service

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