Mobile data access, particularly wireless e-mail, drove the worldwide PDA market to record shipments of 17,7-million units in 2006, an 18,4% increase from 2005, according to Gartner.

"60% of all PDAs shipped in 2006 offered cellular connectivity, up from 47% in 2005," says Todd Kort, principal analyst in Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "48% of all PDAs shipped in 2006 were purchased by enterprises. This was about the same percentage as one year ago due to the strong sales to consumers and prosumers of devices, such as the Sidekick 3, MIO Technology GPS devices and the Motorola Q."
Research In Motion (RIM) continued to lead the PDA market, but its product mix has been rapidly shifting toward smartphones following the September launch of the BlackBerry Pearl. RIM shipped more than 1,8-million BlackBerry devices in the fourth quarter of 2006, with an estimated 915 000 considered to be PDAs (the 87xx) and the remainder being smartphones. RIM's PDA growth slowed to 10% to 3,51-million units out of a total of about 6,2-million BlackBerry devices shipped in 2006.
Palm's PDA shipments declined 29% in 2006 as the company continued to focus on the smartphone market with its Treo product. Hewlett-Packard is another vendor experiencing declining fortunes in the PDA market. HP shipped 2,3-million PDAs in 2006, accounting for 9,7% of all PDAs. The one bright spot for HP was that its flagship models, the iPAQ 68xx and 69xx devices, comprised about one-third of HP¹s total shipments.
Sharp ranked fifth in 2006 with 1,43-million PDAs shipped. About 1,1-million of these were the Sidekick, primarily marketed by T-Mobile. However, Sharp's Linux PDAs fared poorly, with fewer than 30 000 shipped in 2006.
Microsoft Windows Mobile devices tend be more enterprise-oriented than devices based on other platforms (with the exception of the RIM BlackBerry). However, in the more consumer-oriented fourth quarter, Windows Mobile achieved its highest sales ever with PDA OS shipments exceeding 3,5-million compared with 2,2-million units in the fourth quarter of 2005. This strong quarter helped Windows Mobile to solidify its stronghold on the market with 56,1% market share for the full year. In 2006, shipments of Windows Mobile PDAs grew 38,8% to just under 10-million.