Worldwide shipments of personal digital assistants declined for the third straight year, according to a new report.
Shipments of basic handheld PDAs lacking telephone capabilities shrank to 9.2 million units in 2004, down 13 percent from 10.6 million units in 2003, the Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC said. It's the first time in five years that sales dropped below 10 million units.
The digital gadgets first popularized by the original PalmPilot in 1996 have been facing increasing competition in recent years from the so-called smart phone, which combines organizer functions with cell phone capabilities.
"This drop stresses the urgent need for vendors to evolve their devices beyond personal information management," said David Linsalata, an IDC analyst.
PDA shipments from palmOne Inc., the industry's pioneer and top seller, fell by 9 percent to 3.7 million units in 2004, from 4 million units in 2003.
Sony Corp., which pulled out of the market during the year to sell its PDAs only in Japan, saw its shipments drop dramatically from 1.4 million in 2003 to about 419,000 in 2004.
Shipments from other leading PDA makers, such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and Medion AG, increased, but not enough to offset the overall market's downward spiral.
Those three companies all make PDAs that run Microsoft operating systems.
(Microsoft and NBC are partners in MSNBC.)