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PDA shipments rise steadily in 2005

Research In Motion emerges as top maker of personal digital assistants, according to data released by Gartner.

The first quarter of 2005 has seen healthy growth in shipments of personal digital assistants, fueled by the rising popularity of high-end wireless gadgets, according to market researcher Gartner.

In the January to March period, global shipments of PDAs hit 3.4 million units, a rise of 25 percent over the same period last year, Gartner said. The average selling price also rose by 15 percent in this period compared with the first quarter of 2004. At $406, the average price was the highest since 2000, when Gartner began releasing price information. The research firm attributed the increase to the popularity of high-end wireless models.

Research In Motion emerged as the top vendor; shipments of its BlackBerry handheld grew 75.6 percent in the first quarter. PalmOne shipments dropped 26.3 percent, and its market share fell to 18 percent. This was the lowest PalmOne has seen since it entered the market in 1996. Nokia, which re-entered the wireless PDA market with its 9300 and 9500 models, moved up to fourth place. Hewlett-Packard came in third in terms of market share, but its shipments grew only 4.4 percent.

"PDAs with integrated wireless local area network or cellular capabilities accounted for approximately 55 percent of all PDAs shipped in the first quarter of 2005," Todd Kort, principal analyst of computing devices at Gartner, said in a statement. "This increase is primarily the result of the growing popularity of wireless e-mail, with users favoring larger displays and Qwerty keyboards that are operated with both hands."

Microsoft's Windows CE replaced Palm OS as the top operating systems in PDAs, grabbing 46 percent market share in 2005. RIM came in second, while the Palm OS was relegated to the third spot. Linux shipments also fell marginally, Gartner said.