17th level Hacker

PDA == SmartPhone?

An entry over at Techdirt makes an interesting point about PDAs and SmartPhones:

In fact, as we’ve said before, we’re still not quite sure why PDAs are considered a separate market category from smart phones - as a smart phone is really just a connected PDA. Just like a computer without a modem is still a computer, no one called computers “Smart Computers” when people finally started adding modems or NIC cards to them.

I’ve had some trouble with people making the PDA/SmartPhone distinction, it irked me but I was never quite sure why. That’s an excellent summary of the issue. Why does adding a cellular interface to a PDA turn it into another class of device? The commentary from Jupiter is interesting as well. I think their asessment is valid… IF network applications for mobile devices continue to disappoint. But I think the correct mix of services would quickly drive uptake of connected mobile devices. And unlike the mismanaged rollout of Bluetooth, I don’t think that handset makers are going to subsidize putting PDA functions into handsets in the hopes that they will be useful at some unspecified point in the future. Once a PDA is a useful and fully contained personal information device, I think those numbers will change. As long as the PDA is mostly a desktop peripheral with small classes of underdeveloped standalone applications, those numbers will remain low.