Monday, January 03, 2005

    PDA Prediction

    The prediction of the week will be addressing handheld devices. Portable gadgets are great, especially if you're the manufacturer of a popular one or own stock in such a company. Portable = freedom and control, and people crave both. Cell phones are just an obvious example of this.

    A few years ago PDA's were very popular, but appeared to be dwindling out of the consumers vision as a desirable portable device - overtaken by (yep) the cell phone and laptops that were becoming increasingly lighter and thinner. PDA's do have some nice features - so much so that many of these basic features have been incorporated into most modern cell phones - calendar, calculator, alarms, games, etc. Some PDA manufacturers have even been contracted to embed cell phone electronics into their PDA - a somewhat bulky cell phone.

    There is a threshold that is about to explode - another technological race - wireless services in handheld devices. We all know about Wi-Fi, and many use wireless internet connections even daily. Embedded Wi-Fi has not quite made it fully into either the cell or PDA markets. The cell carriers have a fear-factor - if the consumer can connect directly into a Wi-Fi hotspot what will be their revenue model (how will they make money)? PDA manufacturers would love to recapture ground lost to the cell market. I don't predict cell phones will become obsolete, but I do predict that the PDA will make a big comeback once they come with integrated Wi-Fi. There are a couple of manufacturers just starting to come out in the USA (some Asian markets can already get such devices). One is HP with their HP iPAQ Pocket PC. Some so-called "Wi-Fi" devices require the consumer to subscribe to specialty wireless services. If you are considering any wireless device make sure it is "Wi-Fi" ((802.11 a/b/g) compatible so you can take advantage of the many FREE wireless access points!

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