Handhelds face new mobile competition

In 2003, the U.S. handheld market continued to decline, due to tighter information technology budgets and competition from new products such as smart wireless phones, according to IDC.

Just over 5 million handheld devices were shipped in the United States in 2003, down from a peak of 6.3 million in 2001, said Dave Linsalata, an analyst at IDC. In 2004, IDC officials estimate that number to be around 4.3 million handheld unit shipments.

"Conversion devices are strong forces to overcome," he said. That is especially true in the consumer market, where users, if given the choice, would prefer carrying one device instead of multiple devices to perform the same task.

Handheld manufacturers — Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., palmOne Inc. and Sony Electronics Inc. are the top four — need to define themselves better through new technological advances to find new markets, Linsalata said.

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