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Old 02-10-2005, 10:48 AM   #1
ignatz
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Switched On (Engadget) discusses the "death" of PDAs

Engadget has an article by Ross Rubin dissecting the "ailing PDA market". In some ways it's more of the same that we've seen before, but it's still worth reading. A worthwhile snip:
Quote:
The PDA paradox is that, ignoring cell phones for a moment, consumers should be more willing to gravitate toward a multifunction portable device than a dedicated one due to the space constraints of mobility. But since the introduction of the original PDA, there’s been a mini-explosion of portable devices free from carrier oversight. But for a hard drive, PalmOne could have developed the iPod or Portable Media Center. Instead, we see companies such as Archos taking portable video players and co-opting PIM functionality. ... Perhaps, beyond the PIM features, PDAs have simply suffered from the jack-of-all-trades problem.
I'm not sure how I feel about what he's saying. I don't think that PDAs are really "dying" so much as transitioning. With the flourishing of new portable tech it's inevitable that there will be a rise and fall of devices. I do think that we may be closing in on a saturation point with the current crop of portables. I also think that the market forces are much too harsh for some very useful devices. (Not every portable device can be an ipod.) But where will we be in 2-3 years? 5-7 years?? Put a 20 gig hard drive in my Palm and make it open like a book and let me make phone calls on wifi and cell networks. I don't think that there will be a "jack-of-all-trades problem" then. In fact, in the end, once the tech matures, I hope that there will be a jack-of-all-trades solution!

I think that all the predictions of the "death of PDAs" are completely overblown. These devices are much to useful to disappear, even with the threats from media players and smartphones.
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Old 02-11-2005, 06:59 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ignatz
I think that all the predictions of the "death of PDAs" are completely overblown. These devices are much to useful to disappear, even with the threats from media players and smartphones.
I agree with Ignatz. In fact, I believe PDAs are the basic devices from which mobile media players and smartphones develop today.

Instead of talking about "death", it is much better to talk about "transition". If you look at the Archos media player, for instance, how can you tell the difference from a "regular" PDA? It offers all the features a PDA offers (PIM functionality), with a strong focus on multi media. Smartphones, on the other, also offer PIM functionality, but with a focus on mobile connectivity. So, what is a PDA? What is a smartphone, or a mobile media player? Aren't they all arising from the same ideas, technology and mobility - only with a different focus?
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Old 02-11-2005, 07:31 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morpheus
So, what is a PDA? What is a smartphone, or a mobile media player?
My feelings exactly. The divisions that these units are put into are really fairly arbitrary. When the "death of the PDA" is discussed, the PDA in question is so narrowly defined that it nearly renders the discussion pointless, given the overlap of features with other products. The sales of Palm-style PDAs may be flagging, but from this point on I doubt that we will lack for portable devices that can serve the multiple purposes of PIM functionality, ebook reading, game playing, media playing, etc, etc... So what's "dying"?
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Old 02-12-2005, 10:04 AM   #4
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Angry What's Dying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ignatz
The sales of Palm-style PDAs may be flagging, but from this point on I doubt that we will lack for portable devices that can serve the multiple purposes of PIM functionality, ebook reading, game playing, media playing, etc, etc... So what's "dying"?
Well, Palm sales are flagging simply because 1. the market is saturated and 2. they haven't come out with anything worth upgrading to. But they will probably fix that sometime this year.

What's dying is the old concept of the PDA. As you correctly point out, the demands on the functionality of the handheld devices are going up. No longer are they just simple calendaring and contact lists. They serve many other uses.

But this bothers me in that it seems that the in the race to provide all these new functions, the PDA-type apps are falling by the wayside. In my case, calendaring, to do, memos and other personal-data type of applications is what I use my Palm for 75% of the time (eBook reading for the othe 25%). But game playing, media playing, etc. is only something "nice" to have once in a while and if my Palm didn't do those things, it really wouldn't bother me.

I have a Zodiac2 and while it's a great game/media device, it is a poor PDA. Even my Sharp SL-C760 is a wonderful device, but, again, poor on the PDA side. Companies need to realize that the majority of people who buy these are doing to use them for non-entertainment purposes. Playing MP3s, videos, games, etc. is nice and will break the tie between two similar devices, it's not a good enough reason to purchase a device.
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