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Dell will swing PDAs to PocketPC, says Dataquest

Palm the victim

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Dell Computer Corp's entry into the PDA market could lead to a considerable market shakeup, according to a report from Gartner Dataquest, despite Dell's own limited short-term ambitions for the technology.

Gartner Dataquest, a division of Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc, believes that Dell's avowedly low-cost approach to computing will put increased pressure on smaller players and help swing the PDA market towards Pocket PC-powered devices rather than the currently numerically dominant Palm OS.

Dataquest's opinion was backed up by Michael Dell himself. The Dell CEO told a news conference in Tokyo yesterday that his company would be launching its first Pocket PC-based PDA "fairly soon, at least in the United States." However, Dell sees only limited near-term growth opportunities because of the small size of the market.

But while Dell expects only limited opportunities in the PDA space, any growth it does achieve looks likely to come at the expense of smaller rivals, especially given the static nature of the PDA market. Dataquest reported a 0.9% year-on-year slide in worldwide PDA shipments in the third quarter of 2002.

Most obviously at risk from Dell's belated entry into the market looks to be Handspring Inc, the Palm OS licensee whose market share fell from 13.5% to 3.8% in the period (albeit not including sales of its Treo 180 integrated phone and PDA device), dropping it to fifth place among the named vendors.

According to Dataquest's analysis, Palm itself continued to dominate shipments, accounting for over 800,000 of the 2.6 million units shipped in the period, increasing its market share from 28.8% to 30.6%.

The big winners were Palm OS licensee Sony Corp, which grew market share from 3.5% to 13.0% to take third place overall, and Pocket PC user Toshiba, which came from 0.3% a year ago to 5.5%, fourth in Dataquest's latest league table.

Hewlett-Packard Co reaped the rewards of absorbing Compaq's iPaq range of Pocket PC devices, claiming a slim second place ahead of Sony, with a market share of 14.4%, up from 12.1% in 2001.

The unnamed "others", which included big names such as Casio, NEC and Sharp have also seen their market share fall as the market consolidates, falling to 32.7% from 41.8% a year ago.

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