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A new study found that worldwide shipments of smart phones and PDAs were up 57 percent in the first six months of 2006 compared to the same time period last year.

The Gartner study, released Oct. 5, found that global shipments of smart phones grew by more than 75 percent in the first six months of 2006 compared to the same time period in 2005.

The total number of smart phone units worldwide reached 34.7 million, and Japan now stands for the largest market for these devices.

Although shipments of PDAs grew about 5.7 percent during the same time period, the market for these devices has started to slow down, said Todd Kort, a principal analyst at Gartner and the co-author of the study.

“The PDA market has begun to flatten out, and its going to stay that way,” said Kort, who is based in Austin, Texas.

Click here to read more about the PDA market.

“The smart phone market is growing rapidly,” Kort added. “I think you will see a speed up in the growth of the smart phone market next year as prices start to come down and a lot more vendors start entering the market.”

Yet despite the popularity of smart phones in Asia and Europe, these devices remain more popular with consumers than with enterprises. In the enterprise space, the PDA is still the preferred choice, Kort said.

“We just haven’t seen a lot of adoption of the smart phone with business yet,” Kort said.

In the first half of 2006, 53 percent of all PDAs featured some sort of integrated cellular capability, which was up from 46 percent during the same time period in 2005. Those capabilities continued to make PDAs popular in the enterprise space.

To distinguish between the two devices, Gartner defined a PDA as a data-centric device that uses a third-party operating system. A smart phone, according to Gartner, is a device that is voice-centric.

The average price of a smart phone remains about $400, although Kort believes that number will drop to about $200 soon. The average PDA remains about $350, he said.

Click here to read more about how Cingular plans to create smart phones for businesses.

The market for smart phones will continue to grow through the rest of the year. The Gartner study predicted that smart phone shipments will increase by 66 percent by the end of the year and total about 81 million units worldwide.

The PDA market will increase 6.3 percent and total 16 million units worldwide, according to the study.

The Gartner study found that the market for smart phones grew everywhere in the world in the first six months of 2006 except for North America, where PDA shipments outstripped smart phone shipments.

North America accounted for 45 percent of PDA shipments worldwide, according to Garter.

In contrast to the PDA market in North America, Japan accounts for about 33 percent of the smart phone market, and that market grew an astounding 153 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to Gartner.

Nokia, based in Helsinki, Finland, accounted for 42 percent of the combined PDA and smart phone market.

That was followed by Research In Motion, the Ontario maker of the BlackBerry line, which captured 6.5 percent of the combined PDA and smart phone market.

Motorola held about 5.3 percent of the combined smart phone and PDA market. The company was helped by introducing Linux-based devices in China and Japan, according to Kort.

Palm accounted for about 5 percent of the total market. The company may have been a drag on the entire PDA market since it has not introduced a new product in 2006, according to the study.

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