PDA shipments continue to grow and decline

Proving once again that the devil is in the details, research firm Gartner Inc. reported that PDA shipments in 2006 rose over 18 percent over 2005 while IDC reported that they fell 28.5 percent in the same period. So what accounts for this difference? Simply the definition of a PDA. Gartner Dataquest defines a PDA as a data-centric handheld (data first and voice second) computer weighing less than 1 pound that is primarily designed for use with both hands. IDC on the other hand limits the definition to devices that do not include telephony but may include wireless capabilities that enable Internet access and text communication..

According to Gartner, a total of 17.7 million units were shipped in 2006 with the top five vendors being Research in Motion (3,510,927 units), Palm (1,970,031 units), HP (1,721,531 units), Mio Technology (1,515,496 units), and Sharp (1,428,318 units). More than 60 percent of those included some sort of cellular connectivity (compared to 47 percent the previous year). Both Palm and HP showed significant declines in marketshare. Windows CE, Research in Motion and Palm OS are the top three operating systems.

IDC on the other hand, reported that a total of 5.5 million handhelds shipped in 2006, compared to 7.6 million in 2005. The top five vendors are Palm (1,982,000 units), HP (1,210,000 units), Dell (490,000 units), Mio (442,893 units) and Sharp (297,500 units). All showed year-over-year declines except Mio and Sharp.