IDC: Palm regains European PDA market lead

Palm Inc. has regained its position as the leading supplier of PDAs (personal digital assistants) in Europe, but is still losing market share to PDAs running Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket PC and Windows CE operating systems, International Data Corp. (IDC) said Wednesday.

The market for handheld devices, including smart phones such as Nokia Corp.'s Communicator, declined by 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001, IDC said in a news release, but grew by 8 percent over the full year.

Palm was briefly overtaken in the third quarter by Nokia. However, Palm regained its lead position with a 38 percent market share in the fourth quarter. Over 2001, Palm had 34 percent of the market, compared to 51 percent in 2000. Compaq Computer Corp.'s share grew from 6 percent to 17 percent, Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP) from 4 percent to 6 percent, and Nokia's from 8 percent to 12 percent.

In terms of the operating system used, Palm's share has declined from 58 percent to 43 percent year- on-year. Microsoft-based products, such as those made by HP and Compaq, won 31 percent of the market, up from 14.7 percent, according to IDC spokesman Tim Mui. The Symbian/ Epoch operating system has won 23 percent market share, from 17.6 percent in 2000, Mui said.

Aggressive pricing, a reorganized sales force and improved inventory control are behind much of Palm's success, IDC said. However, HP and Compaq have also instigated sharp price cuts, and heavy advertising of Nokia's 9210 Communicator has encouraged strong sales in Europe, IDC said.m/.

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