PDA shipments triple across Europe

Mobile device shipments nearly tripled across Europe in the first half of the year according to analysts Canalys.

According to the company, volumes of smart phones and wireless handhelds rose 170 per cent year on year in EMEA to 9.6m. In comparison, Canalys claims that if you take out these ‘smart device’, basic mobile phone volumes only rose 11 per cent over the same period.

At least one of the drivers of this phenomenon is simply that mobile phone upgrades are headed in this direction – most probably, a mobile phone user’s next handset will fall under the smartphone category, with the ability to receive email, surf the web and use other online data services.

Corporate spending is also fuelling the rise, with enterprises buying into the mobile email promise: some 80 per cent of enterprise shipments for mobile smartphones were for Nokia’s Series 60 keypad-based handsets. Its Series 80 range bought it another 13 per cent market share.

Of the wireless handhelds, the clear leader remains RIM on the manufacturer front, with a third of the market. But by platform, Windows Mobile is king and accounts for almost all the other devices shipped. Canalys expects Microsoft’s platform to grow still further as it seeks a share of the push email handheld market pioneered by RIM, and with the likes of Palm announcing a Windows-based Treo, Windows holds some strong cards.

‘RIM has enjoyed tremendous growth in EMEA over the past year, with total device shipments (smart phones plus wireless handhelds) up 130 per cent in the first half of 2005,’ said Canalys analyst Rachel Lashford. ‘But it is seeing increasing competition from other players now as the market is proving to be so lucrative. With Nokia and Microsoft respectively announcing the Nokia Business Centre and the Windows Mobile 5.0 Messaging and Security Feature Pack, the challenge will increase.’

For handhelds without a mobile network connection, Europe bucked a global decline of 10 per cent with a jump of 26 per cent for the period. However, senior analyst Chris Jones said that this is likely to prove an isolated peak rather than a trend setting indicator. Propping up the rise is the success of handhelds bundled with GPS cards, but with dedicated systems such as TomTom and Garmin solutions dropping in price, these are rapidly proving more popular.

‘In Q2, [prices] reached €480, down from more than €700 a year ago. The sales proposition is simple and the out-of-the-box experience often superior too,’ said Canalys’s senior research analyst Chris Jones.

He told us that with PC manufacturers also looking to succeed in this area – Acer recently launched its d100 Portable Navigator – the window of opportunity handhelds have enjoyed is about to close.

This type of device is expected to account for nearly two-thirds of the navigation market next year.

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