Worldwide personal digital assistant (PDA) shipments exceeded 2.8 million units, as Microsoft Windows CE operating system licensees surpassed the Palm OS for the first time in the third quarter of 2004, according to Gartner, Inc.
The Microsoft Windows CE operating system accounted for 48.1 percent of worldwide PDA shipments in third quarter of 2004. Palm OS units represented 29.8 percent of the market, down from 46.9 percent market share in the same period last year.
"The robust Microsoft Windows CE market has been driven in part by the wide choice of vendors," said Todd Kort, principal analyst in Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "Business customers tend to steer clear of markets dominated by a single supplier, which is where the Palm OS market stands today."
"A decline in Palm OS shipments was expected in the third quarter of 2004, but not of this magnitude," Mr. Kort said. "The company is pouring the vast majority of its resources into its smartphone business. A reduction in the number of PDA models palmOne offers is expected in 2005."
PalmOne continued to lead the worldwide market in PDA hardware shipments, but its shipments declined 13.3 percent in the third quarter of 2004. PalmOne's market share totaled 26.2 percent, but Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion showed substantial increases in shipments in the third quarter of 2003 (see Table 2).
"Demand for wireless e-mail continues to increase as the primary driver of new PDA deployments. The shipment growth of Research In Motion nearly balances the decline of Palm OS, Linux, Symbian and proprietary PDAs," Mr. Kort said. "We expect worldwide PDA shipments to total 11.9 million units in 2004, up approximately 4 percent from 2003."