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Wednesday
Aug272003

Regular PDAs Dying? Uh, No.

ux50I've been amused (and a bit bugged) by the doom and gloom "research reports" being released by popular "market research firms" now claiming that PDAs are dying and will soon be replaced by happy plastic über-phone-cam-communicator-thingees. I often wonder if because communicators are just the "new hot thing" which fortune-telling consulting firms figure they ought to jump on the bandwagon and predict them as the only devices that will survive into the future. Come on guys.

I dunno, maybe I just generally take research consultancy prognostications with a huge grain of salt. In reality, nobody really knows what will happen in high-tech beyond maybe a year from now, yet research consultant reports are often passed off as high-tech gospel and swallowed whole without much challenge. I often wonder how many of these predictions are written to please whomever may be paying for them, or to fall into line with other predictions so consultants don't get any heat at the next industry convention.

However, what bugs me more is this idea that the communicator will without question replace the PDA and I had just better get used to it. I believe there are many users out there who don't want a telephone integrated with a PDA, those who like having these two devices separated. I happen to be one of those people.

Why? First, I don't use a mobile phone much, though I use my PDA all day long. I want all of my battery power reserved for my PDA and not impacted by an integrated phone. I don't want a wireless company to "activate" my communicator in order for me to buy it. I don't want to deal with my mobile phone crashing in the middle of an important call. I prefer a simple, separate mobile phone.

Now, if you're talking wireless capabilities like Bluetooth or WiFi (or whatever follows them) integrated into future PDAs -- that I love. I love the concept of the Sony UX-50 or Tungsten T and a Bluetooth phone, or the Tungsten C for WiFi networks. I want my PDA to talk with my other devices if I choose to connect them. That includes my network, mobile phone, laptop and maybe even my digital camera. I mean, at some point it's going to be cheaper to include wireless technologies on integrated PDA chips than to leave these features off. Wireless doesn't necessarily mean mobile phone. See the difference?

I believe there is a huge market out there for many variations of devices. PDAs, phone-oriented communicators (Kyocera 7135), PDA-oriented communicators (Treo 600), specialized handhelds (Garmin iQue) and even not-so handheld devices (such as the Dana Wireless). All of these devices can co-exist together in the same market.

Simon Buckingham, the CEO of Mobile Streams as quoted in the Register's article, sums it up nicely I think:

"I don't think any huge conclusions can be drawn about the industry at this stage," he said. "Our philosophy is, 'different devices for different people.' And don't forget there is a big installed based of people with Palms and other handhelds who may not want to switch. It's our position that there is a future for all devices."

Amen brother!

Reader Comments (2)

Mike, you said it buddy. When I look at my clients, I see all types of computing needs and luckily there are solutions for most of them. I see the same diversity that you're talking about and I don't see a change coming any time soon.
August 28, 2003 | Unregistered Commentermashby
Greg -- excellent point that I hadn't considered! I carry my cheap Nokia on road bike rides but speciically do not carry my Palm because I'd fear damaging the Palm in a crash. I can get a cheap Nokia replacement phone for $50. No brainer.
August 28, 2003 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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