Smartphones taking over from handheld devices

12 Feb 2008

Shipments of handheld devices were down 44.3pc in 2007 on the previous year, marking a graduation of consumers from handhelds and towards smartphones.

IDC figures showed that 3 million units of handheld devices were shipped by vendors during 2007, down on the 5.5 million units shipped during 2006.

Q4 2007 shipments were down 53.2pc to 683,004 on the same quarter a year ago and down 6pc on the Q3 2007.

“In most mature markets, the fourth quarter typically brings an increase in shipments to meet holiday demand but this was not the case for the handheld-device market,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s mobile devices technology and trends team.

“User interest has shifted away from handheld devices to others that can perform the same tasks but include features that better meet user demand. The best example of this is the converged mobile device, or smartphone, that can do personal information management and other handheld-device functions but can also make phone calls, meaning it is a better alternative for most consumers.”

Q4 2007 was the 16th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline for handheld shipments. However, IDC does not expect the market for handhelds to disappear altogether.

“If you look at each quarter during 2007, some of the leading vendors have seen their shipment volumes start to level off. This gives some hope that the market may be finding a sustainable level,” said Llamas. “Plus, vendors are still introducing new models and reaching first-time users. If the market was about to disappear, then neither of these trends would be taking place today.”

Palm devices remain the most shipped, with HP, Mio, Fujitsu-Siemens and Sharp filling out the rest of the top five spots.

By Niall Byrne