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Old 02-27-2005, 10:19 AM   #1
Bob Russell
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The Next Killer PDA App?

According to a very nice and thoughtful article at Brighthand article, sales have fallen off because the killer PDA app is PIM apps. The idea is that the masses of people that wanted a PDA for that purpose are pretty much happy with their devices, so the market is falling off. What is needed is another killer app to create sales.

Ed Hardy tells us that he believes wireless e-mail is just that new killer app. I agree. It's definitely a killer app, but... I'm not so sure that it's going to help PDA sales very much. Unless Palm and PPC get ahead of the curve for both the app and the service contracts that support it, I just see it as another reason for the portable pseudo-PDA devices to leapfrog PDAs. For example smartphones and RIM devices which are already exploding in sales.

At my place of work it's an amazing transformation that has taken place. From a few trial RIM devices, it has grown into a cultural thing. Management as well as staff that needs to be in touch all make use of those devices. And I think all they do is use it for their email and calendar. But it's synched with Lotus Notes, and it pushes email with a vibrate notification, and it is now also a phone.

People have adopted it with a gusto I never would have expected. At every meeting I'm at, you hear those things vibrating and people are sending emails back and forth, and business gets done faster. Jokes and funny observations even go flying around the conference room sometimes at long boring meetings!

So yes, I agree wireless email is the next killer app. But no, unfortunately I don't think it's going to do much to help PDA sales. PDAs are too far behind on the technology, especially in terms of the wireless service providers behind it.
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Old 02-27-2005, 10:46 AM   #2
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More proof that people prefer dedicated devices over "all-in-one" machines such as a PDA.
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Old 02-27-2005, 11:18 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurens
More proof that people prefer dedicated devices over "all-in-one" machines such as a PDA.
I think you have that backwards... the RIM Blackberry is an all-in-one device, and today's PDAs are most-definately not all-in-one devices (thankfully).

Or were you referring to two different devices not mentioned here?
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Old 02-27-2005, 01:04 PM   #4
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These devices combine the two vital applications most people want in one device: email and cellphone. PDA's just cannot compete with that for most people.

However there is still a niche for PDA's.
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Old 02-27-2005, 01:43 PM   #5
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So maybe when we say combination devices are good and bad, it's not really the all-in-one functionality that's the problem. It's the way it's combined. Here's a few observations to back that idea up...

1) All-in-one devices usually involve too many tradeoffs.
So if you really want the best PDA or a phone, etc. you probably better not even think about a combined device. That's part of what makes me not want a smart phone right now.

2) Combined is not bad in and of itself... PDAs are in themselves pretty much an all-in-one device with portable multimedia, PIM, computer, Bible, game machine, etc. RIM has found this to be true and has just combined different features. Instead of building on the entirety of PDA capabilities, it focuses on phone and PIM, and does it very well. So for RIM, combined is good (or at least good enough!)

3) Service providers are an important part of the mix
I also don't like anything to do with wireless providers. In my mind they are sleazier than horse traders, used car salesmen, and long distance telesales. They'll charge you for sneezing and you may not even realize it until you see the bill. Verizon sales told me that you can only get a VGA picture from the phone by paying $25/picture to email it. They told me they disabled all the functionality to use a cable to connect to the PC. Not entirely true, but that's a story for another day. The point is that they will suck your wallet dry. When you combine features, you have to also pay attention to the very high ongoing service costs which may far outshadow the cost of the device itself.

Looking at all these considerations, I'd say some combined devices will succeed. It's just the current direction and implementations and technology causes way too much compromise. For the true PDA-lover, it may be a long long time before we can be happy with a device that has phone features grafted in at the cost of PDA functions. As much as I long to be able to fit it all in one pocket, count me in that group of PDA-lovers for now!
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