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PDA Shipments Up, Prices Down

Danger's Sidekick achieved "near cult status" for young wireless-messaging users, tripling growth in the third quarter. But the RIM BlackBerry is still the most popular PDA.

Worldwide shipments of personal digital assistants increased nearly 32% in the third quarter, as prices declined 13%, a market research firm said Thursday.

Manufacturers shipped 4.5 million units in the quarter, compared with 3.4 million the same period last year, Gartner said. The average selling price fell to $351.

Gartner defines a PDA as a data-centric device, such as Research In Motion's BlackBerry, that weighs less than a pound and may have voice capabilities. Much of the growth in the quarter was generated by PDAs capable of accessing cellular networks, such as Danger Inc.'s Sidekick 3 sold by T-Mobile, the Nokia E61/E62, and the Motorola Q.

"The Sidekick has achieved near cult status as a wireless messaging device among the 15-to-25 age group in the U.S., which propelled it to nearly 300% growth in the third quarter," Gartner analyst Todd Kort said in a statement. "We have not seen the consumer marketplace gravitate toward a particular PDA model like this since Palm's peak of popularity over five years ago. The trendiness of this device combined with substantial pent-up demand produced a rush to get on board with the new model."

RIM remained the most popular PDA maker, accounting for 20.9% of worldwide PDA shipments. The remaining top five manufacturers, and market share, were Danger, 10.5%; Palm, 10.3; Hewlett-Packard, 8.1; and Mio Technology, 7.8.

HP's business struggled in the third quarter, with shipments declining 33% from a year ago, despite launching some new models, Gartner said.

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