Pocket PC operating system overtakes Palm

Microsoft’s Pocket PC has overtaken Palm as the leading operating system (OS) for pen-based handheld devices, according to Q2 figures released by market analyst IDC.

The Pocket PC OS accounted for 52.1 per cent of all pen-based shipments. Palm recorded a 46.6 per cent market share and the remaining 1.3 per cent was split between Linux and Windows CE.

However, pen-based unit sales were disappointing in the quarter, increasing 2.5 per cent on Q1 but falling 15.3 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

“It was surprising to see pen-based sales struggle in Q2 because it is usually a strong quarter for those vendors,” IDC analyst, Imraan Ali, said.

“But the traditional PDA market has been stagnant for the past year and the only growth is at the low end. Palm, HP and Dell are all becoming aggressive in that space.

“PDAs also suffered because of the fast growth in notebooks, which are getting smaller all the time and can manipulate much higher amounts of data.”

Ali said Palm’s figures had been adversely affected by stock problems.

“Demand has been huge for its Zire 71 product but Palm just couldn’t get enough into the country,” he said. “It has MP3 player and digital camera functionality as well as a nice form factor, which makes it very popular in the youth market.

“Palm is still a strong vendor but its operating system slipped to number two because of the number of other players that have chosen to run on the Pocket PC OS. Acer offers a choice but Dell, HP and Toshiba have all gone with Pocket PC.”

IDC groups pen-based and converged devices into a single smart handheld devices (SHD) market. Growth in converged devices – offering voice and data as well as video services in some cases – saw the SHD market grow 6.7 per cent from Q1 and 15.9 per cent on the same period last year.

“Converged devices are definitely where we are headed and the vendors know that,” Ali said. “Traditional PDA vendors like Palm and HP will have to compete directly with the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson. It’s going to be a battle of the operating systems.”

Symbian OS currently holds an 80.1 per cent share of the converged device market, due largely to the strength of leading handset vendor, Nokia. The Pocket PC/Smartphone platform holds a 14.9 per cent share.

Palm remained the leading vendor for the overall Australian SHD market in Q2 with a 30.5 per cent market share. HP ran second (23.1 per cent) with Nokia (18.5 per cent), Sony Ericsson (5.9 per cent) and Toshiba (5.4 per cent) filling the minor places.

A total of 39,128 SHD units were shipped in the quarter – 27,229 pen-based and 11,889 converged devices.

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