PDA Market Continues To Slide
By Carlo Longino, Thu Jan 29 01:00:00 GMT 2004

Despite a slight uptick for the holidays, PDA sales dropped signficantly again in 2003. What's next for this shrinking market?

Shipments for the full year were off 17.9% worldwide to 10.4 million units, even though fourth-quarter shipments were up a meager 3.2% over the previous year. palmOne was the year's market share leader, followed by HP, Sony, Dell, and Toshiba, though it was displaced by German maker Medion as #5 in the fourth quarter.

Clearly PDAs continue to suffer as smartphones continue to gain in popularity, though a record number of PDAs were shipped in Europe in 2003, where they looked to enjoy a resurgence thanks to GPS navigation systems.

The success of PDAs with GPS illustrates a point PDA makers should take to heart -- that smartphones will dominate the personal information management arena that was one PDA's bread and butter, and extending the capabilities of the devices beyond those of smartphones is the only way they can continue to sell devices.

There's no reason for many smartphone users to carry PDAs, since the PIM functions of many phones work well and can sync (relatively) easily with desktop PCs. But PDAs' large screens and powerful processors open a whole realm of possibilities still unavailable to mobile phones, particularly in multimedia and entertainment.

I've watched movies on my Pocket PC, and it's not a bad experience, and certainly far, far better than watching them on either of the two smartphones I've got. The same goes for playing MP3s. While some segments of the smartphone market are interested in using their phones for this type of content, PDAs will, for the foreseeable future, provide a better experience. The way forward for the PDA might be best as the PMD -- personal media device.