The growing evolution of mobile phones and the growing sophistication of converged mobile devices leaves the future for basic PDAs (personal digital assistants) looking bleak, research shows.

A report by analyst firm IDC suggests that the worldwide handheld-device industry will decline by 8.4 per cent to 11.35 million units this year – its second straight year of decline.

Alex Slawsby, research analyst in IDC's Mobile Device research team, said: "Demand for non-voice-enabled handheld devices remains depressed, as mixed economic conditions, competition from alternative devices, and limited worldwide appeal impact on market expansion."

IDC forecasts some "limited growth" in 2004, but says that this will be the result of companies such as Palm, Dell and HP moving toward converged mobile-devices, which combine the data capabilities of PDAs with the voice capabilities of mobile phones.

IDC predicts that the converged mobile-device market will see strong growth this year, with sales approaching 13 million. The expected growth is likely to be the result of improvements in device aesthetics and functionality, and declining prices are likely to make the products increasingly accessible to the mobile-phone user.

Market growth is expected to remain strong throughout 2007, as a growing percentage of mobile phones adopt high-end operating systems. IDC predict a compound annual growth rate of nearly 86 per cent throughout the forecast period.