Worldwide Handheld Device Shipments Declined 21% from Previous Year in Q1 2003, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, MA – APRIL 23, 2003 – The worldwide market for handheld devices declined in the first quarter of 2003 due to sluggish demand from businesses and consumers alike. According to IDC’s Worldwide Handheld QView, worldwide handheld device shipments fell by 21.3% year-on-year in 1Q03

and dropped sequentially by 26.5% to 2.45 million units. Palm maintained its top position in the market while Hewlett-Packard regained the number 2 position from Sony.


"The post-holiday slump in enterprise and consumer spending on handheld devices mirrored the difficult worldwide economic climate,” said Ross Sealfon, research analyst in IDC’s Smart Handheld Devices program. “Beyond the impact of seasonality, concerns of terrorism, war overseas, and continued economic instability hampered device purchases. Despite the availability of new, low-priced models and affordable, highly functional models, handhelds offer limited appeal to the majority of consumers and enterprises."

Aside from a surge in consumer purchases around the holidays, clear consumption patterns for handheld devices have yet to emerge among enterprises and consumers. As most enterprise customers do not regard handheld devices as a key component of their IT infrastructure, demand softens quickly as corporate IT budgets are cut. In the consumer market, handhelds are viewed primarily as luxury items. As a result, declines in consumer confidence and disposable income negatively impact consumer demand.

QView Highlights

Palm – On the strength new devices, including its $99 Zire, Palm maintained its leadership status, shipping nearly double the units of its closest competitor

Hewlett Packard – H-P regained the number 2 spot due in large part to sales of its $299 H1910.

Dell – Dell tripled its volume sequentially and vaulted into the top 5 with the success of its $199 and $299 Axim X5.

Handspring – Previously a market leader, Handspring continued its strategy shift to converged devices, dropping to the number 7 spot overall with 2.9% market share.

Asia/Pacific – The dynamics of the Asia/Pacific handheld market continue to evolve with Legend, Minren, and Hi-Tech Wealth dropping out of the top 10 list of leading vendors during the quarter, and GSL joining the top 10.

Rank Vendor 1Q 2003

Shipments 1Q 2003

Market Share

1 Palm 881,709 36.0%

2 Hewlett-Packard 444,000 18.1%

3 Sony 400,000 16.3%

4 Dell 159,000 6.5%

5 Toshiba 87,322 3.6%

6 Casio 83,250 3.4%

7 Handspring 70,000 2.9%

8 Sharp 68,960 2.8%

9 RIM 51,000 2.1%

10 GSL 48,500 2.0%

Other 158,300 6.5%

Total 2,452,041 100%


Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.

Handheld devices are pocket-sized, either pen or keypad-centric, and are capable of synchronizing with desktop or laptop computers. Handheld devices are designed to access and manage data including office documents, multimedia, and games.

Handheld devices do not include telephony but may include wireless capabilities which enable Internet access and text communication. These devices feature evolved operating systems or application environments, such as the Palm OS, Pocket PC, Windows CE, Handheld PC 2000, Linux or proprietary solutions and have the ability to download and run applications and store user data beyond their required PIM capabilities.

Source: IDC, April 23, 2003

IDC’s Worldwide Handheld Qview provides device vendors, software developers, service providers, and component suppliers with timely and accurate information on the worldwide handheld market. The program provides quarterly measurements of worldwide unit shipments and vendor market shares.

For more information about IDC’s Worldwide Handheld Qview program, please contact Demetrios Louloudes at 508-935-4356 or

Media Contact: Ross Sealfon, 508-988-6772,

About IDC

IDC is the foremost global market intelligence and advisory firm helping clients gain insight into technology and ebusiness trends to develop sound business strategies. Using a combination of rigorous primary research, in-depth analysis, and client interaction, IDC forecasts worldwide markets and trends to deliver dependable service and client advice. More than 700 analysts in 43 countries provide global research with local content. IDC’s customers comprise the world’s leading IT suppliers, IT organizations, ebusiness companies, and the financial community. Additional information can be found at

IDC is a division of IDG, the world’s leading IT media, research, and exposition company.

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