Wed, Nov 26, 2003 - Page 10 News List

HP, rivals plan new PDAs

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hewlett-Packard Co and its rivals are planning to roll out new personal digital assistant (PDA) models during the annual IT-Month event to help stimulate dwindling demand, company officials and industry leaders said yesterday.

HP, the largest PDA vendor in Taiwan by market share, launched the latest personal digital assistant, iPAQ h4150, which enables wireless access to the Internet. HP currently holds nearly 34 percent local market share, up from 14 percent one-and-a-half years ago when it merged with rival Compaq.

"We already reached our target of 50 percent sales growth. We believe growth will be even bigger as soon as our production lines can catch up with piled-up orders," said Frank Hsu (徐寶旺), a marketing development manager at HP Taiwan. HP already sold 30,000 units during the first three quarters, compared to 20,000 units sold last year.

Hsu estimated that HP could land more than 2,000 iPAQ orders during IT Month. The company said it will offer discounts of up to 30 percent on its high-end model for five lucky local customers on the first day of the annual industry gala, slated to kick off Saturday at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall.

During the nine-day event, Mitac International Corp (神達電腦) will unveil two new PDA models -- one equipped with embedded cameras -- while Sony Corp will showcase two entry-level models and one high-end model.

While sales of PDAs in Taiwan appears resilient, global PDA shipments have declined for eight consecutive quarters to 2.52 million units in the third quarter of this year, according to international research agency Gartner Inc's statistics.

"The PDA industry is increasingly becoming a marginalized sector as smart phones, which enable strong communications functions, are eating into the market," said George Wu (吳裕良), a research analyst with Primasia Securities Co.

Market Intelligence Center (資策會), a government-funded research house, also said that global shipments will slide to around 11.4 million units from 12.2 million last year.

Taiwan's PDA shipments, however, are expected to rise to 6.18 million units this year, up from 3.85 million last year, because international PDA vendors increased their outsourcing orders to local manufacturers. These include High Tech Computer Corp (宏達電子), Wistron Corp (緯創資通) and Inventec Appliances Corp (英華達), said an MIC analyst surnamed Yao.

"The growth in the PDA industry will be very minimal, as the industry is moving into a mature phase but lacks new applications," she said.

The MIC predicted that growth will be capped at about 5 percent annually up to 2007. The annual global shipment is likely to hover at around 12 million units, the MIC analyst said.

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