Handheld sales go from bad to worse

Handheld sales go from bad to worse

Fifteenth consecutive quarter of decline, according to IDC

Global sales of handheld devices, excluding phones, have declined for the 15th consecutive quarter, signalling vendors' intentions to scale back production or bail out of the market entirely, research reveals.

IDC's Worldwide Handheld QView reports that vendors shipped 728,894 handheld devices in the third quarter of 2007, approximately 1.5 per cent more than the previous quarter but 39.3 per cent fewer than the same quarter a year ago.

"The handheld market has been under constant pressure as mobile phones and converged devices appropriate many of the handheld's attributes," said Ramon Llamas, a research analyst at IDC's Mobile Device Technology and Trends team.

"Handheld product portfolios have suffered as vendors have reallocated their production resources."

However, IDC believes that, while the handheld device market may be down, it is not necessarily out.

"The handheld still has a loyal, if shrinking, following in developed economies, especially among enterprise users," said Llamas.

"The appeal of handhelds in emerging markets seems anchored by the absence of a monthly service plan and a lower total cost of ownership compared to mobile phones and/or converged mobile devices."

Palm kept its spot as the "clear leader" in the handheld market even though it has not launched a new model for over two years.

HP retained the number two position during the quarter, still trailing Palm but far outpacing any of the remaining vendors.

HP announced plans in September for several new devices, including the 111 Classic Handheld and the 211 Enterprise Handheld as well as the iPAQ 610 Business Navigator, a converged mobile device.