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06/03/2004 Archived Entry: "The PDA is Dead. Long Live the PDA."
Posted by CKL @ 09:59 AM PST

From CNET:

"The popularity of the personal digital assistant has been steadily eroded by smart phones, digital cameras, music players and other devices that can provide many PDA functions. What's more, a lemminglike rush of computing and consumer electronics companies created a glut of products early on, hastening its predicted fate as the next analog pager, thermal fax machine or Tamagotchi Pet.

"The stylus writing was on the wall as early as the spring of 2001--just after the dot-com bubble had burst--when market leader Palm warned that it would reach only half of its expected quarterly revenue. So today, the question isn't why Sony is getting out of the market--but who will be next."

I'd hate to spread rumors, but I have heard talk of PalmOne getting into bed with Microsoft. Now that they've split from PalmSource, it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility. Why limit your hardware to one OS?

It's true that Microsoft's PDAs (as produced by Dell, Compaq, HP, et al.) have been largely identical, brick-like commodities, while PalmOne has focused on producing more specialized devices targeted to specific user segments. The problem is, users increasingly expect one device to be able to do everything-- store a calendar and address book, play MP3s, make phone calls, browse the Web. It's not realistic, but technology is magic to most people, and every feature they can't have is one more reason not to spend $500 on a toy that will end up in a desk drawer after a few weeks.

The closest thing to a killer app for PDAs that I've seen is video games. Maybe devices like the Tapwave Zodiac and Sony PSP will revive the market. Of course, then, devices will no longer revolve around business-centric organizer functions. Maybe that's a good thing.

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