October 24, 2004

Wireless PDAs Rising, Standalone PDAs Exiting

There are multiple news items on this theme at PalmInfocenter.

First, there's "Handheld Manufacturers Continue Retreat," which highlights the U.S. PDA market exit of Sony, Toshiba, JVC, and Sharp Electronics.

Next, there's "PalmSource to Present Wireless Everywhere Vision", which announces PalmSource's address, "Simply Wireless for the Enterprise", at a recent Gartner Symposium. Per the article, "The Company will showcase PalmSource Mail for BlackBerry Connect, a client solution that brings Blackberry push-based email and data connectivity to Palm Powered smart mobile devices. PalmSource will also demonstrate IBM WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager (WECM) for Palm OS, a mobile Virtual Private Network (VPN) solution that encrypts data and allows mobile users to roam seamlessly and securely between any wired or wireless network on a Palm Powered smart mobile device."

Last but certainly not least, there's "Rumor: Treo 650 Launch Details Revealed", which highlights all the new goodies on the upcoming Treo 650, which should be out shortly. Definitely worth a read, as the new features address many of the prior Treo 600's shortcomings -- particularly in screen resolution, swappability of batteries, retention of data after power loss, improved e-mail and networking support, Bluetooth support, and more.

The above items mostly illustrate the maturing of the handheld market. One the underlying issues is that many users want a nicely styled compact cell phone but a larger display for reading the PDA-type information (calendar, contacts, e-mails, etc.). The challenge is that these are generally conflicting goals. Again, the Treo line looks like the best compromise I've seen thus far, but don't count RIM/BlackBerry out just yet. Both platforms address both voice and data, and each have their own peculiar strengths and weaknesses. RIM already has a strong corporate presence, but the Treo has the nice intuitive Palm OS interface and developer community.

This isn't to say there isn't room for disconnected devices, but their market is definitely shrinking. As the mobile market matures and consolidates, I wouldn't be at all surprised by more cross-licensing agreements between major players. Otherwise, they risk a winner-takes-it-all outcome, which is great if you're the winner, but not so good for the loser.

Topic(s):   Mobile Tech & Gadgets
Posted by Jeff Beard