There is something that I have noticed, not only in my own usage, but in general. For some reason, it seems that PDAs have lost some of their focus as simple organizers, but have gained a heck of an edge in terms of being computing replacements.
What do I mean by losing focus? Well, let’s take the Treo since it’s one of the most popular PDA phones today. The Treo series can email, SMS, take pictures, edit documents, conference call, chat with your car, and still have a plethora of other abilities at its disposal. But probably one of the hardest things that a Treo (or any PDA phone for that matter) tries to do is be an organizer.
Most PDA phones did start out first as PDAs, and so the question is, what happened that they are no long so focused on helping one to stay organized, but put more emphasis on staying connected.
Traditional PDAs, Too
And it isn’t just PDA phones. Traditional PDAs have (for all intents and purposes) become computer replacements for many users.
From those who will only check email on a BlackBerry, to that UPS/FedEx person that will make you sign a Symbol PDA or Tablet PC for your package, PDAs have really evolved to be an excellent means of making ‘computing anywhere’ a plausible and workable reality.
And while applications and user experience will never match that of a full-size laptop or a workstation, the amount that a PDA keeps you plugged into is pretty darn remarkable.
So, is it really a PDA anymore if organizing is not the main focus? Well, yes, still it’s a PDA. While organization is not the main focus of mobile computing, it is a foundational feature, and one by which connectivity makes its stand.
Don’t Forget About Usability
While I embrace the way PDAs have become more connected, I also feel strongly that usability should come back to the forefront of PDAs and mobile technology. I don’t mind one bit being constantly connected to all kinds of data in every way possible, but I want to be able to better organize it than I can now.
And if that just means a simple notepad that can mark up my tasks lists and calendar days, then that should be something that comes as a neat application (still waiting for OneNote for the Palm OS – I know, I know).
And why couldn’t this information automatically be available online? As soon as I make a change on my PDA, it should be reflected on my desktop.
But that should come from manufacturers marketing solutions for people’s problems, not just feature sets.
A user will come back and buy a device with better features, but only if the device has a focus on what they want to do. People just need to be told by device makers that the new features will help them focus better, not just connect them faster.