Global shipments of handheld computers rose 18.4% to 17.7 million in 2006, with Research in Motion's BlackBerry showing strong growth, an Associated Press report, quoting research firm Gartner, said.
The Associated Press report also said Palm suffered a steep decline in sales and market share, Gartner reported.
In terms of operating systems for personal digital assistants, shipments of devices based on Microsoft's Windows platform grew by 38.8% to nearly 10 million, the report said.
Those shipments, by multiple manufacturers of Windows-based devices, increased Microsoft's market share to 56.1%, up from 47.9% in 2005, the research company said.
BlackBerry retained the top spot for PDA devices shipped, growing 10% to 3.5 million for the year, but its market share slipped from 21.3% in 2005 to just a shade below 20% during 2006, Gartner said.
Palm saw PDA shipments slide by 29% to less than 2.8 million devices, its market share plummeting to 11.1% from the prior year's 18.5%.
HP's shipments also declined in 2006, falling 24.1% to 2.3 million devices. Its market share fell by more than a third to 9.7% versus the prior year's 15.1%.Gartner said the overall increase in shipments of PDAs was driven by growing demand for wireless access to email and the Internet. The research company found that 60% of the devices shipped were equipped with cellular connectivity, up from 47% in 2005.