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Programmed Death for the PDAs


If in 5 years time, all mobile phones (even low end mobiles) will include PDA functionalities (Calendar,e-mails,Tasks)

Why would have bother to have 2 devices (Mobile & PDA) in my pocket

While I can have a SmartPhone and have both in one ?

Do you think PDAs do still have a bright future (for the mass market)?

Gollum
Monday, May 17, 2004

Well, if PDAs go away, then the market for 'utility belts' would definitely take a hit. Pow! Bam!

Batman
Monday, May 17, 2004

>Do you think PDAs do still have a bright future (for the >mass market)?

For the consumer market may be not. But for enterprise market certainly yes.
But on the other hand, when you buy a Smartphone you make some sacrifices. It's very hard to find a combo device (atleast now), which does both voice and data applications perfectly. So some people still would prefer to carry separate devices.

Anon
Monday, May 17, 2004

I totally agree with you.

I recently purchased a Motorola V300. Although it doesn't have all of the PDA features it does synch with Outlook (if you buy the USB cable).

Having your Outlook Contacts & Calendar on your mobile is a nice feature.

The calendar on the V300 also bring over the Outlook reminders which is a nice feature. I'm sure they will add tasks & email to these type phones too.

Also, the V300 has a camera and can play low rate MP3s. It's just a matter of time before the pics & MP3s get to a good quality.

genx'er
Monday, May 17, 2004

Great PDA's have nice big colour screens, and thumb keyboards, if that's what you're into.

Great phones have small low-power-sucking screens, and small form-factor.

They seem pretty incompatible to me. Especially if you don't like the see an ear-shaped grease mark on your PDA screen.

Edward
Monday, May 17, 2004

As a European and as a programmer for Symbian smartphones, all I can suggest is that folks from the forgotten continent of telecommunications inoperability look a bit further a field for the future, where it is already happening ;-)

Although really the whole usage of mobile phones in the US is different; people tend to use them when driving, or only in emergencies, and be more office and PC oriented.

Whereas in Europe you can't travel by train, bus or plane (at the airport, at least!) without seeing Symbian smartphones everywhere.  People tend to use them in spare moments much more often.

In Europe the pace of mobile usage is with kids, so we're seeing more effort put into entertainment than into PDA type functionality.  That will probably never change, although the PDA features will go up at almost the same rate as the game playing potential (is my guess).

All around the world kids are spending parents money on phones.  Phones themselves are becoming smarter, even if they try to make the interface simplier.  But underneath that skin is a beast just waiting to make a mockery of the kinds of computers that *we* grew up with.

i like i
Monday, May 17, 2004

From a euroean perspective PDAs have gone the way of dot matrix printers - there are a few vertical market applications but not for normal users.

Most modern phones have cameras, colour screens and can play MP3s.  I can sync over bluetooth with outlook - I can get new emails and web browse over GPRS / 3G.

Nobody here is about to pay another $500 and carry another box just to have wince start button.

Martin Beckett
Monday, May 17, 2004

When I think of adding PDA functionality to cell phones, a couple of thoughts come to mind:

1 - Either cell phones will get bigger again, or the user interface will get worse.  I prefer larger, easy to use devices over smaller hit-2-buttons-with-1-finger devices, and I'm not 'old'.  But with the aging baby boom population in the US, form factor will be an issue.

2 - Added functionality means added processing power, which typically means higher power consumption.  Battery life and heat dissipation will be problems to overcome.  No real comment here other than I wonder how far the technology will go before it hits the same wall that Intel has hit in the PC market (I'm referring here to their recent decision to concentrate on dual processors in the future.)

yet another anon
Monday, May 17, 2004

That's dual cores. . .

Elephant
Monday, May 17, 2004

most smartphones are dual core - telephony is done in one core and apps on a dedicated core.  In the near future, that will begin to change.

power consumption is being chased continuously, of course.

i like i
Monday, May 17, 2004

"folks from the forgotten continent of telecommunications inoperability"

I prefer the term "cellular third world" thank you.

I'm still using my Kyocera smart phone, but it's tough - it's a huge phone compared to modern models; I'm trying to figure out the best combination phone/PDA so I can have:
- a small phone with some minor PDA functionality and a long battery life
- a full-featured PDA with a decent form factor and memory.

My current preferences are an LG VX4600 phone and a Toshiba e805 PDA.

Philo

The Real Philo
Monday, May 17, 2004

I see the general cell phone market splitting into two areas, the full function smart device and the 'mini' phone.

The mini phone is something like what was in the Minority Report.  Something that basically fits in/over the ear and has a little mic that extends towards the mouth.  I think these devices will be mostly voice activated and will have a very small display/keypad or none at all.  There are already a couple of devices on the market that are going in this direction.

The smart device is something that we are already seeing as well.  I think there are some rather large problems to solve in this area though (a couple of posters have commented on this already), how to deal with a smaller display and the usuability issues that result from that and what to do about battery life, what to do about having to have the screen up beside your face when you are talking to some one but need information that is on the device.  I think these are all solvable problems and we should see them solved in the next 3-5 years.

My $0.02...

Ray
Monday, May 17, 2004

The problem with a PDA/Cell phone is how to shink PDA's UI down to the size that will fit in a usuable cell phone form factor.

I think the solution is going to be a new type of display and input. Perhaps one of these flexible LCD displays will allow the user to unroll the lcd out of the side of the phone if they need the PDA features. Who knows exacaly how it will shake out.

MilesArcher
Monday, May 17, 2004

"The problem with a PDA/Cell phone is how to shink PDA's UI down to the size that will fit in a usuable cell phone form factor."

I have a P800 -- it's smaller (width-wise) than an IPAQ but not by much.  It's UI certainly didn't need to be shrunk.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, May 17, 2004

Lets not forget that Many PDAs are getting cell phone inside them.  I have one, but I'm getting sick of it resetting from time to time.  A cell phone with microsoft reliability  just doesn't seem to be working for me.  If it were a little more trustworthy I would love it.  The upcoming Motorola MPX certainly has geek-appeal.

But think about, we are starting to have a lot of pocket sized useful machines now.  Phone, PDA, GPS navigation, MP3 player.  They all need more or less the same hardware: screen, processor, memory, antennas.  And we only have so much pocket space.  Some sort of open platform where all these things can live together makes sense.  And the lines between PDA and Phone are certainly starting to blur.

Keith Wright
Monday, May 17, 2004

I have a Sony-Ericsson P900 and I love it.

Erix
Monday, May 17, 2004


The NGage experiment was just a waste...

Using a game boy Advance to give a call ;-)

How ridiculous would you look in the train

Gollum
Monday, May 17, 2004

I don't really understand why people feel they need a small form factor cell phone w/ PDA. Even if engineering could make the device tiny I don't see how you be able to use the PDA aspects.

I have a Treo. It is a little bigger than my old Palm V. But the Treo is smaller than my Palm V and old cellphone put together. Battery life is good (not as long as my PDA, but definitely longer than any previous cellphone.)

If they could make it thinner or lighter that would be cool, but I'd rather have a bigger screen to be honest.

The Sidekick is another nice combo device with a good form factor (too bad it doesn't sync with your computer).

NathanJ
Monday, May 17, 2004

Also, on the orginal question about the future of plain PDAs... I don't think the mass market will support them for much longer. PDA users tend to use cell phones too. As the combo devices get better I think most consumers will switch to those.

NathanJ
Monday, May 17, 2004

I wouldn't classify the US as a telecommunications third world, especially given that CDMA2000 has been rolled out all over the place and UMTS is still having teething problems.  You can't buy a CDMA phone that isn't at least 1xRTT (144k theoretical, 60k actual) from the CDMA providers anymore.  But that's another matter....

The way I see it, it's a linear optimization problem, like cars or TVs.  Cars have a variety of form factors, ranging from 2 person city-cars to 2 seater roadsters to sedans to compact cars to SUVs to minivans.  People can decide how much space they want, how sporty they want it to be, etc. and the market has provided them with points on that chart that are satisfying.

In the same way, portable devices are like this.  A treo makes a great PDA but a relatively lousy phone.  A series 60 Nokia phone makes an OK PDA but a great phone.  A standard PDA makes a great PDA but can't be used as a phone and maybe can do WiFi and/or Bluetooth.  You've got notebooks and subnotebooks on there, too.  They are all points on a chart, not seperate concerns.

This is also a cultural thing.  Different countries and different groups of people want different things.  Most cell phone companies are restricting in various ways what you can do with your phone and/or are charging for it.  Or they are just simply having problems figuring out how to properly market/productize it.  In the US, text messaging is far less popular than it is in Europe, for example.  It's also clothing dependent.  Often times, women's clothes have no pockets but women have purses, which changes how women will approach the size and shape of a device.

The problem is that the perfect form factor is impossible.  You want a large-enough screen to see actual data.  In a very real sense, even PDA screens are too small and it's an open question what the best solution to that is.  Until there's an integral bluetooth earbud strongly resemblant of the thing that Uhuru wore in Star Trek that can be pulled out of the PDA like a stylus, you need to be able to have a traditional phone speaker and microphone (instead of looking really stupid like the origional nGauge).  Maybe in a few years, it will be possible, but not quite yet.

I'm personally going to be most annoyed if PDAs go away entirely.  I really like that I have the flexibility to have one or the other with me, but not both.

Flamebait Sr.
Monday, May 17, 2004

It would seem to me that the best device would be both.  A small handset component that communicates with the PDA using blue tooth and acts as the phone interface when present, and a decent sized PDA that can also act as the the phone interface when necessary.

That way, you don't have to hold a brick up to your ear, but you don't pay to have all that processing in the handset (or headset).

Maybe I'm just weird though.

Steve Barbour
Monday, May 17, 2004

"I'm personally going to be most annoyed if PDAs go away entirely."

I think PDAs are going away.  Not everyone wants a phone that's a big PDA.  There will always be a market for cell phones.  However, a PDA can be a PDA and still incorporate phone features.  A connected PDA is far more useful than an unconnected one.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, May 17, 2004

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