PDAs Are Closing the Gap

by Reads (5,027)

One of the things that I like best about the different PDA platforms is the arguments that each of the camps have about why their PDA is better than another’s and who’s is closer to the personal computer experience. As I wander about the boards, I sometimes laugh because (many times) we get angry at PDAs not doing what we don’t like our desktops to do. But that gave me some insight on mobile computing and how close it is becoming to the real vision for computing for all: a platform where information is anywhere and can be accessed anytime by [nearly] anyone.

So why do I think that PDAs are closing the gap on that idea? It’s simple really. PDAs have gone from the niche device of digital organizer, capable of holding tidbits of information and having few means of communicating with the outside world. And have become mobile terminals capable of empowering students in classrooms, little devices undoing the leashes to corporate desks, and giving the power of information back into the hands of the consumer. We see now PDAs have basically been mutated into every platform of computing: mobile video players, MP3 and other audio players, smartphones, and even TabletPCs. It’s safe to say, as a paradigm within computing, PDAs have been the reason that we have wanted a computer all along. And the speed of their development on so many different fronts has really given new meaning to mobility.

Reason number one: it has to.
Simply put, with computing components getting smaller and more efficient (except for batteries ironically), computers have basically had no excuse except to get from out of the big rooms and onto desks; and then off of the desks and into our briefcases; and finally from the briefcase into our pockets and purses. It’s almost inevitable. We want to carry life with us, and anything that makes life easier to carry gets pocket space first.

Reason number two: smaller computers mean more people can have one.
One of the reasons why I write is because I want people to understand that of all the things that one person can have over another, access to technology should not be one of them. I have personally seen that giving high school students PDAs does a great thing for their confidence. And at the same time, it makes their brain stretch. Some students I had in one class pushed their parents to purchase a computer, even though there was not funds for it. PDAs are an example of what people can do when they set their minds to making technology accessible. And putting that technology in use makes it no longer a stumbling block to access, but a stepping stone to success.

Reason number three: manufacturers are letting them.
As many people have stated in many articles, the sales of PDAs are slowing down. More people are buying connected devices and MP3 players than ordinary PDAs. There are two ways to look at those numbers. Either it is an issue that PDAs are no longer popular, or that they have reached a plateau in the market where people want them; but not because of novelty. With many of the users who visit our forums, their questions aren’t so much hinging on what is the latest and greatest PDA, but what PDA can work best for me. This is a sign that manufacturers are getting it and putting out there products that the ordinary consumer wants to just get the job done. My hats off to manufacturers for that. The juggle for them is to make sure to keep the 10% of users who buy the latest and greatest talking about your products, for it is their enthusiasm that keeps the other people looking towards you.

My final reason for believing that PDAs are closing the gap: simply speaking, they are powerful enough to do so.
Who would have thought five years ago that we would be talking about PDAs that can be phones, terminal clients, MP3 players, and still have enough power to play our picture gallery and camera? PDAs have mutated/grown into devices that are by nature, meant for those who like to move around. I like best hearing those people who bought a PDA, only to realize that downloading a certain program will turn their PDA into a full featured office suite. It’s almost like PDAs are positioning themselves to be the next desktop. Which is of course the point of it all right? No need to get mobile if you can’t take that nice day to sit outside and do your work by the pond.

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