Microsoft's PocketPC platform is catching up with Palm - at least in the corporate arena - according to market research company IDC. PocketPC's marketshare has grown from ten per cent in April - when it was simply Windows CE - to 18 per cent.
Of course, that still leaves Palm with 74 per cent of the market, but IDC's statistic shows that the Microsoft platform is beginning to win friends and influence people.
Indeed, year on year, WinCE device shipments have grown 200 per cent. That has led the researcher to predict Palm's marketshare eroding to 51 per cent by 2004.
We're not entirely surprised by that. PocketPC was, after all, always likely to win more support in the corporate arena, where budgets are less restrained and flashy features like colour screens and the familiar Windows look and feel. They also - generally - look like the kind of toys executives like to carry around to show off how much disposable income they have.
In many respects, we're surprised WinCE's share of the corporate market was as low as ten per cent.
In the retail space, as we reported earlier this month (see Palm erodes Handspring marketshare), the Palm platform dominated the market with an 80 per cent share - split 68.8:11.2 between Palm and Handspring - with WinCE/PocketPC at 13.5 per cent, it's biggest share for a long time after a consistently low showing from April (the time of PocketPC's launch) through August.
The state of the retail market since PocketPC's launch suggests Palm will rule the roost for some time to come, and that its own PalmOS licensees are more of a threat than Microsoft.
Still, that may change, as IDC warns. Palm's best weapon is not its own, but is actually the high price PocketPC vendors are charging for their kit. Sharply falling prices could hit Palm hard. But while it's not hard to imagine Palm losing more ground in the corporate arena, the same isn't true of the retail space, thanks to the profile Handspring is building for itself and the presence of Sony. ®