The handheld market declined in the second quarter 2004, analysts at IDC report.

Faced by stiff competition from mobile phones and other devices, global shipments of personal digital assistants (PDAs) declined 2.2 per cent to 2.2 million in the second quarter of 2004, down from 2.27 million units during the same quarter in 2003.

The market for PDAs has been in decline since 2001, hurt by a general slump in technology purchasing, competition from wireless devices that perform PDA-like functions, and affected by a lack of new applications, said David Linsalata, an analyst with IDC.

"The handheld of the 1990s is the same as the handheld of the 2000s in that it hasn't really evolved," he observed.

Sony's solution - withdrawal

Responding to the slowdown, the world's third-largest PDA vendor Sony last month decided to exit the market, except in Japan, leaving HP and PalmOne with over 65 per cent of the market between them, according to IDC.

Sony, which ships the Clie handhelds, saw its market share drop by 33.2 per cent in the last year. The company shipped 172,000 units during the second quarter.

PalmOne had the largest volume of shipments, selling 924,000 devices in the second quarter, down 0.6 per cent from the same period in 2003. Following Sony's departure, PalmOne remains the only major PalmOS vendor in the market, IDC said.

HP saw its shipments increase by 39.2 per cent year-over-year, selling 530,000 devices during the quarter.