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Why are Smart Phones better then a PDA + Cell Phon

I always tried to look at the bigger picture, and then ask those simple questions that no one seems to be able to answer. (and, of course, usually the answer is simple!).

Most articles on this subject read like a bunch of kids in grade school. You know, stuff like:

  Oh, gee, you don’t have to carry two devices.


  New phones have some pda functions, and thus you don’t need your pda (yea..right!).

So, you see all kinds of debates about convergence and the like, but the question still remains:

Why get a smart phone, and replace your pda + cell phone?

You see, right now I have a palm T3, and am looking for a new cell phone. Looking at new cell phones, if I get a Bluetooth phone, then simply brining up a contact on my palm, and whacking connect. I can then simply close the palm, it powers off, and mean while my cell phone is dialing. (this is great). By the time I put down my pda, and grab my cell phone..the dialing process is well on its way. However, a integrated phone is still better (can you figure out why?).

The MAIN resistance to using integrated pda is along the following lines:

  Cost of phone goes up, upgrade cycles are different for phones and pda, and the combo phones are too bulky.

Virtually all of these problems (cost, size, upgrade cycle) etc. simply being to diminish as each new phone gets better and better.

If you held a new Treo 600 in your hand…you instantly realize that this integrated phone and pda don’t force the compromise that we all expect (cell phone displays are crap, and too small, and when you add a pda, the phone becomes HUGE!). The Treo is marvels blend of size, and hold what the future of good phones + pda can be.

For a good number of people, all they do with their pda is keep phones numbers (contacts),and use the appointments list (for work, or birthdays of friends etc). While many phones try to have a contact manager, and a appointment list, those applications tend to really suck.

So, the case really does favor a integrated unit. I would integrate the two into one unit in a flash if the pda + phone gave me the best features of both devices in one, and at a reasonable cost.

However, now that Bluetooth exists, then why integrate the two devices?

With two separate units, I can have my cell phone sitting in my briefcase, and whack email, or surf the web, and the pda will TALK to, and use the cell phone via Bluetooth (this is quite cool). So, with Bluetooth, my pda gets to use all of the features of the cell phone (in fact, you can even use a headset attached to your pda, or a wireless one,and you go through you pda to get to your phone).

Once again, then why is a integrated unit better?

The answer is simple:

With a integrated unit, you get MORE functionality then two separate units.

The above I the critical point here.

Would you not like to have a completely programmable phone? I mean, are not programmable calculators better then non programming ones?

Lets face it, the reason why palm kick the crap out of traditional pda makers like my old Casio Boss was that the OLD pda’s, (and most pdas from Japan for that matter) were NOT programmable. Those pda’s did not allow developers to make general software for their products. In other words, whatever feature you got was whatever was packed on the device from day one.

The same applies to a cell phone:

If your cell phone is complete programmable, then the features it has can be changed!

For example, if you have a incoming call on your integrated phone, you not only get call display, but can then:

Have a application DO SOMTING with this fact. Thus, your outlook, or whatever contact manager you use can now show that you received a phone call from that client, and also the length of the call can be logged in outlook.

Not only can your contact manager be updated, but you can also pump the data of this out to your billing software. So, next time you sync your phone with your computer, things like contact mangers can be updated, but also things like billing can also be updated (and, you might choose to do this wirelessly, and NOT have to go back to the office to do this!).

Further, since you do have caller id, then if the phone number is a NEW contact, then again this NEW contact can appear in your outlook (or whatever contact manager you use).  So, now, you don’t even have to write down, or type in new contacts!

Lets assume that the phone call was from a client that JUST approved a major order, or sale. You look at your phone, and the contact is on the display. You tap a key, and up comes the list of orders, or project budgets that are WAITING to be approved by you (you can’t wait for those types of it usually means commission time!). If the buyer says yes, then you jump up, and go whoo hoo!, but you also tap on the waiting order list, and select that order(s). That order now gets instantly sent off to corporate headquarters where the order processing starts.

Congratulations, you just completed another sale!.

It is the integrating of the FACT OF the phone call with other applications is what makes the integrated pda + cell phone a new product. You can do new tasks here! You have NEW ideas, and concepts from a integration point of view. The integrated pda + phone is as big as a deal as was when palm came out with one of the first programmable pdas, and complete caught the Japan makers of their projects off guard.

Those Japanese makers of pda’s like the Casio boss, and the like (which I used in the late 1980’s) did not realize how incredibly useful those devices could be if SOFTWARE developers could create software for them). In fact, the palm guys found this out by accident also, as the FIRST applications that appeared for the palm where done by hackers. It was a short time after, that palm realize they are on to something.

So, lets get beyond the silly debate about having two devices vs one. The cell phone with a good OS that allows developers to create new applications is a new era.

This is a major paradigm shift.

It would be great to be able to tap on 10 contacts, and then whack the conference all button, and have the phone do all the dialing and the connecting for me. (what is even more cool, that you as a developer could offer this software to phone users who hate setting up conference calls!). Even more cool is that all phones could have this conference call set up as a appointment, and all connect and turn on at the same time at some future date!

Anytime you integrating  programming devices with good communication ability, you get something really very cool Contrast the personal computer without the internet.  A computer without the internet is like placing a Ferrari in the jungle without roads. (it is cool, but the real use starts to come out when you connect things).

So, integrated pda and phones can facilitate communication in a way that separate devices can not.

Having a complete operating system that allows people to write software for telephones is a rather large reason to favor a integrated unit.

I right now for example use a billing application on my pda. (hey, I write software..and hate paper work, so I use my pda to do that crap…don’t you?). If I had a integrated unit, then all of my billing software would now show all phone calls made to the client on my bill. This is not a make, or break issue of billing, but if I could do it for no effort on my part, then I most certainly would. In fact, some of my billing is based 100% on the phone records anyway (and, with a  proper application, I could check a box at the end of the phone call is this is to be billed. No more forgetting to bill clients! (I wrote the billing software that works off of my pda anyway, but would love to extend and add features like this).

In fact, if really look at the new world of integrated phones + pda, you see a whole new class of applications. In fact, the next problem to be solved is how to get your phone to work at your desk..since it is SOOOO nice. Who would ever want to go back to using their standard desk phone when this little devices keeps track of all your calls, and what your customers are up to!. Hum, I guess work places will have to start purchases Bluetooth phones that make my pda ring while at work!

The old apple II started up with some games etc, just like current phones have some neat games..but who cares! On the other hand, the cute games on the Apple II were the fore runner of the whole personal computer industry.

So, yes..we should laugh at the dumb apple II games, and the stupid games you see on new cell phones.

However, when I think about the NEW kinds of cool applications that you can get with fully programmable phone that has internet abilities, then without a doubt:

......the future belongs to a integrated unit.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Monday, June 21, 2004


Mr. O
Monday, June 21, 2004

but what device to get?  the leading pda phones are not bluetooth enabled.  You mentioned the treo 600 (not bluetooth enabled) and any pda phone today (in the US) sporting a windows OS is not bluetooth enabled.

I think the only current option is the P900.  i am holding out for somthing better, even though this is a cool phone/pda

Chris Hester
Monday, June 21, 2004

My plan is to move from a phone+PDA to an integrated unit around the end of the summer, when Verizon gives me a discounted upgrade.

The only part of the combo that I haven't figured out how to handle is this:  I'm on the phone with person A, and A gives me B's phone number so I can call B after the call with A ends.  Where do I write B's number so that I have it handy at the end of the call?

Emperor Norton
Monday, June 21, 2004

>......the future belongs to a integrated unit.
May be for personal or consumer use. But when it comes to enterprise vertical applications, there will be instances when only a PDA would fit.
For example, I develop healthcare applications used by physicians and nurses and I don't see them buying an SmartPhone like Treo for running these applications. May be a PDA with WiFi. But not a phone+PDA combo.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Aaron, I could not agree more. There are many applications that fit the pda model right now. Not every one is using a pda for a daytime, and for integrated internet and phone.

Lots of those pda type applications will remain as is, especially those log type applications (time, or check list of what was done).

And, as mentioned, until the cost, and packaging of the phone comes down, then keeping the units separate still makes a lot of sense. In fact, as mentioned, my next purchase will be a Bluetooth phone, as the integrated units are not up to my specs just yet…

Further, the pda market existed before palm, and will continue to exist AFTER the integrated phones become common.

For many vertical markets that pdas are being used, they will not change.

It is even conceivable that a integrated wifi and cell phone would be worth the purchase…EVEN if you did not activate the phone!

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Monday, June 21, 2004

The only thing the vast majority of people who use PDAs use it for is just contact lists anyway.  So when your phone has a good contact list application (not too hard), game over, man, game over.

This is why Sony is running screaming from the PDA market and others will soon follow.

Mr Fancypants
Monday, June 21, 2004

The major advantage of going the separate route is that when you don't need the bulk of the PDA in your pocket, you can just leave it at home or in the car and keep your small phone with you. The Treo is cool, but still too big to seriously consider as an everyday phone, IMHO.


Monday, June 21, 2004

"Where do I write B's number so that I have it handy at the end of the call? "

Turn on the speakerphone and write it on the touchscreen in a notes window.  Works for me.

Jason McCullough
Monday, June 21, 2004

"This is why Sony is running screaming from the PDA market"

I thought it was because of poor sales and a refusal to put standard removable media slots in their devices.

Is Sony still hell-bent on forcing MemorySticks on us?


Monday, June 21, 2004

The main problem at the moment is that phone/PDA devices clearly show where they are coming from.

In another post I mentioned the PDA cum phone that made you use the stylus for sending text messages. No prizes for guessing how many they've sold in Saudi, despite an attractive price and a hefty promotion. The standard phone keyboard with predictive text imnput can be used with the thumb of the hand you're holding the phone in, but tell that to PDA manufacturers.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I have a Treo and I love it.  I wouldn't go back to any other 'phone.

But I also carry a Jornada 720 around with me.  That's a clamshell WinCE device with a half-VGA screen and 3/4 size keyboard.  Add a 5GB PCMCIA drive and along with the occasional use of a CF Wi-fi adapter I have an instant-on "mini-laptop" with fantastic battery life.  And PocketDOS allows me to run a handful of old DOS programs, including emulation of my old HP200LX.

Most people use PDAs as nothing more than a glorified filofax, and for them a smart phone is perfect.  I think the all the "palm" style PDAs will gain telephony capability of some sort.

But there's still plenty of users who want an instant-on mini-laptop.  I don't think telephony is relevant to that kind of PDA use.

David B. Wildgoose
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I think  the real question is: What the hell does "whack email" mean, and is it something that you should be doing in public?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Nope, it really is just about not carrying two devices.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

If Palm only added bluetooth and WiFi to the Treo, it would be the best thing since sliced bread.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

google the trio 610

Chris Hester
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Treo 610 still looks like vapourware.

With Bluetooth, but sans WiFi

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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