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5/5/2005
11:53 AM
Mike Elgan
Mike Elgan
Commentary
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RIM Passes PalmOne? Not True.

We ran a story yesterday that said RIM has overtaken PalmOne as the number-one PDA vendor. Don't believe it. Actually, the story itself is true -- Gartner did report that RIM overtook PalmOne in the PDA market. What's misleading is the Gartner report itself.

We ran a story yesterday that said RIM has overtaken PalmOne as the number-one PDA vendor, according to a Gartner report. Don't believe it.

Actually, the story itself is true -- Gartner did report that RIM overtook PalmOne in the PDA market. What's misleading is the Gartner report itself.

Gartner is calling several lines of RIM smart phones "PDAs."

PalmOne's actual PDAs, in other words, have been overtaken by a combination of RIM PDAs and seven lines of RIM smart phones.

Here's the lineup of RIM's handheld products. At the top are three lines of RIM business smart phones. Sales of those products were not counted in Gartner's report. Fair enough. But everything below that line was included. Of these eight products labeled "Blackberry Handhelds," seven of them have built-in cell phone functionality -- yet were not excluded from Gartner's report.

To me, if a device has a built-in phone, PDA and Internet access, it's a "smart phone," not a PDA. But to Gartner, the test is: What does the vendor call it?

Vendor labels for products are just so much marketing. I think Gartner should define these categories for itself rather than letting the vendors do it. That would result in an apples-to-apples comparison, rather than what we have it in this report.

It doesn't really matter anyway. The stand-alone PDA market is on its way to irrelevance. All kinds of changes in rank order will take place as the forward-thinking companies de-emphasize or abandon it, and the backward companies keep pushing products in that space.

What I would like to see is Gartner's rankings on smart phones -- with the RIM devices featuring mobile phone functionality included.

Such a report would be not only interesting and relevant, but credible as well.

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