[CoMoDev] Mobile device market trends

  • From: David Beers <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <comodev@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 09:14:34 -0600

This week the rumors that Sony might be backing out of the PDA market were 
confirmed as Sony announced that it will not be releasing any new Clie 
handhelds to the US market in the fall.  
(http://www.brighthand.com/article/sayonara_clie)  Sony has been the second 
largest vendor of PDAs running the Palm OS and has made a name for themselves 
by pioneering multimedia capabilities, high-resolution screens, and built-in 
cameras in slick, well-engineered hardware that was appealing to the consumer 
market.  Unfortunately, the consumer market is not where handheld device growth 
is happening now, and the features that once made the Clies unique are now 
available in most new handheld computers, including many mobile phones.  Sony 
says it's reassessing the direction of the conventional PDA market, which is 
hardly a surprise since its sales have dropped 45% from 2003.

On the other hand, there's more news indicating that smart phone sales are 
increasing rapidly.  So rapidly, in fact that the overall "mobile device" 
market (handhelds, wireless handhelds, feature phones, and smart phones) grew 
41% worldwide over this time last year 
(http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=6867).  Nokia edged out 
palmOne this year for the top market share spot.  Well, "edged" is probably not 
the right word.  More like "clobbered".  PalmOne's smart phone sales, as big as 
they were, were not enough to offset the reduced sales of it's standalone PDAs, 
while Nokia shipments grew by 85% to take a 28% market share.  PalmOne is still 
king in the US by a pretty wide margin, thanks in large part to the Treo 600 
smart phone (http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=6779).

Where is HP in all this?  They gained 29% on their 2003 shipments, but lost 
market share to Nokia and still ship only about 60% as many units as palmOne. 

As developers we're probably interested in the OS market more than the 
hardware, so how does that shake out?  I'm still trying to figure this out, 
actually.  Palm OS and Windows CE are now in a dead heat in the PDA market 
(http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=6769), but as near as I can 
tell from the Canalys data, Palm OS still has an edge on Windows CE when you 
count the smart phones. It's difficult to say by how much, since we don't have 
numbers for smart phone vendors like Kyocera and Samsung, nor do we know how 
many of those Motorolas run Windows now.  The big question is the Symbian OS, 
though.  I don't know what percentage of those Nokias are running Symbian, but 
I think it's quite high.  If that's the case, then Symbian has a huge lead over 
both Palm and Windows in the handheld OS market.

Does anyone own a Nokia smart phone that runs Symbian?  I really need to look 
into this.


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