The worldwide market for handheld devices experienced its fourth successive quarter of year-over-year decline in the Q4 2004. According to IDC, device shipments increased 37.4% sequentially but fell 18.7% year-over-year in Q4 2004 to 2.8 mln units. For the full year 2004, worldwide handheld device shipments reached 9.2 mln units, a decrease of 13% over 2003’s shipments of 10.6 mln units.
2004 marks the first time since 1999 that worldwide handheld device shipments have slipped to under 10 mln units and the third straight year of decline since the market’s peak in 2001. This distinction, underscored by the departures during the year of top vendors Sony and Toshiba, further emphasizes the increasing competition and search for relevance that handheld device vendors are facing in today’s marketplace. While vendors have seen recent successes with bundled and integrated GPS receivers, the lack of other compelling solutions beyond PIM and GPS continues to limit the vendors’ ability to expand into new market segments.