There were several winners and perhaps only one clear loser in the mobile device market over the final quarter of 2003, according to figures from market research firm Canalys.
HP will be best pleased with the result, seeing sales of its iPaq giving it clear leadership of the data centric handheld market. Sales for the quarter were up 167% on the previous year, with 406,420 sold across EMEA.
Palm will be most disappointed with the results, witnessing a 19% drop in year on year sales, and dropping to under 25% market share, against HP's 32.9% share,
There was good news for Nokia, too, as it continued to dominate the smartphone and feature phone market, as defined by Canalys. But Canalys also credited "latecomer" Motorola with "reasonable" first quarter shipments of its MPx200, and Siemens for "finally" getting its SX1 to market. SonyEricsson's P900 is an improvement on the P800, but it is Nokia which is "unrivalled" in this market, analyst Rachel Lashford said.
Corporate spending was also responsible for a boost in volume for both HP and Nokia, Lashford added.
"As enterprise spending on mobile device solutions grows, smart phone vendors will also want a piece of the action," said analyst Rachel Lashford. "Nokia continues to add to its range, and enjoyed a large initial ship out of the Nokia 6600 this quarter --- its most 'corporate' smart phone handset to date."
Senior analyst Chris Jones said that the availability of GPS navigation bundles was making a big difference, and was hurting Palm and Sony, two vendors without such bundles.
"In some countries, Germany being a prime example, major retailers are now insisting on navigation solutions in preference to standalone handhelds, and the leading vendors are taking advantage of this. Vendors without navigation bundles will find it harder to get shelf space --- Palm and Sony have some catching up to do in this area. It will become more and more difficult to sell such devices purely on the basis of personal information management. Low end handhelds are competing with smart phones offering a similar level of functionality; high end models must offer other benefits to justify their higher price points," Jones said.
Microsoft was quick to hail the results as a success for Windows Mobile, claiming that the figures represented a "shift by the customer towards the Windows Mobile software".
But the report's authors had good words for Symbian too, as Nokia is set to take the OS further into the enterprise market.
"We expect Nokia to target the corporate mobility solutions segment very hard this year, and the Symbian OS is now reaching the shipment levels needed to make it a contender in the enterprise," Lashford said.
l IDC released its own figures for sales of handheld devices globally, which again showed HP to have done well in a market that decreased overall in the face of strong competition from feature rich mobile phones.
"With a growing number of vendors and products that combine both personal information management (PIM) capability and telephony, consumers are moving away from devices that offer only PIM capability. HP and palmOne enjoyed particular success during the holiday buying season by offering handheld devices with features beyond PIM that cannot be found in a mobile phone," said David Linsalata, analyst in IDC's Mobile Devices programme. "Vendors must continue to differentiate and expand into hot product categories."