Microsoft beats PalmSource in PDAs

Magnitude of drop surprises analyst firm

Worldwide shipments of personal digital assistants using Microsoft Windows CE have overtaken Palm OS PDAs for the first time, following a precipitous decline in Palm OS PDA shipments in the third quarter of 2004, according to research released last week by industry analysts Gartner.

With just under 1.4 million Windows CE devices sold during the quarter, Microsoft held 48.1% of the market, up from 41.2% a year earlier. Palm OS shipments were down 28%, dropping from approximately 1.2 million to 850,000 when compared year over year. The market share of Palm OS dropped from 46.9% to 29.8%, Gartner said in a statement.

PalmOne continued to be the top device vendor, but its market share has dropped from 34% to 26% in the last year. The company shipped 864,000 PDAs in the third quarter of 2003 and 749,000 during the same period of 2004, according to Gartner.

A Gartner spokeman says it had been expecting a decline in Palm OS shipments, but not one of this magnitude.

The total PDA market was up 13% from last year's numbers, with 2.9 million units shipped during the quarter. Gartner's PDA numbers did not include smart phones such as PalmOne Treo 600, the statement said.

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