Thursday, June 3, 2004

PDAs Haven't Died, They're Just Morphing Along - and Content Follows the Trend

In the wake of Sony's pulling the plug on its Palm-based line of Clie PDAs in U.S. and European markets CNET News runs with a feature on the potential death of PDAs, citing the rise of cheap smart phones as a key factor in Palm's revenue decline. Palm's own Treo smart phone/PDA/Blackberry is too pricey for average folks and new lower-priced models face stiffer competition from both phones and new players such as Dell who are becoming adept at bundling Windows-based PDAs in with PC sales. Notably the content community is picking up on this trend, with more eBooks working their way on to smart phones along with other premium sources. Though the Treo form factor appeals more to business-oriented users keen on more display space and easy keying in of messages and Web forms, the key to the "death" of the Palm-oriented PDA is that its initial core advantage - handwriting recognition - is relatively moot in the face of folks used to thumbing their way through content using controls more analagous to a PC. Without that advantage, it's anyone's game in portable content platorms. Consumers without a business bent will stick with content delivery that they can get on platforms picked up at the local mobile phone store, while serious business users - and probably gamers over time - will opt for Treo-like form factors better adapted to premium information and experiences. Either way, most everyone has lost the patience and budget to deal with more than one wireless device to keep them in touch with the world.
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