The Personal digital assistant market remains challenging, said analysts at IDC.

Personal digital assistant (PDA) manufacturers endured yet another quarter of falling shipments, though some continue to develop new ideas as established companies embrace newer converged devices that add voice and data capabilities to traditional PDAs.

Worldwide shipments of PDAs, which IDC defined as pocket-size devices that synchronize with PCs but don't include voice capabilities, fell 21 per cent to 1.7 million units in the second quarter of 2005 compared to last year. This is the sixth straight quarter that shipments have declined compared to the previous year, IDC said.

Killed by convergence

Analysts have been chronicling the decline of the traditional PDA for years. Modern mobile phones can often perform all of the traditional personal information management functions like storing contacts and calendar appointments, often at a fraction of the cost of a PDA. Sony and Toshiba have stopped selling their PDA devices worldwide, citing the drop-off in consumer demand.

The opportunity in the handheld device market has shifted to smart phones or data-enabled devices like PalmOne's Treo 650, Nokia's 6670 or Research in Motion's BlackBerry email devices, which are not counted in IDC's PDA market share results.

PalmOne remains on top of the PDA market, but its shipments fell 31 per cent compared to last year. HP the second-place vendor, also saw a decline in shipments of 39 per cent compared to last year. However, both companies are developing hybrid phone/PDA devices that are expected to form the backbone of their product lineups for years to come. Palm had 36.5 per cent of the PDA market in the second quarter, while HP held 18.4 per cent.