I was online quite a bit the last few weeks and it has seemed that, more than ever, the chat around the Net has been that old-fashioned PDAs are going out the window. Nevermind that the Tungsten E2 and Z22 models from Palm still outsell many other models. It just seems that the general consensus is that the disconnected (the non-cellular, no Wi-Fi, and non-Bluetooth) PDA is just passe. Well, far be it from me to argue market trends, but I will argue that there is still a place for those PDAs, and even for them to do well.
What do I mean? Well, take the Palm Z22 for instance. It is about as simple a handheld as they come. Yet it sells in droves. Not so much because it looks decent (it’s cute in my opinion), but because it does the bare minimum a PDA should do, and does it well enough to pick up easily. We techies can argue about the “plumpness” of a Treo, or how an Axim X51v is just a bit too large, but man, that Z22 really is just right for what it does.
Take that viewpoint up a few notches and look at models such as the Palm TX and Dell Axim X51 (not the V model). It would seem that for nearly anyone not quite a beginner with a PDA and who is looking for the best-valued options in wireless handhelds (the non-cellular ones), these would be great to go to bat with. They can connect to wireless networks, phones, GPS receivers, and have enough memory to hold library-competing amounts of books. They are really some nice do-it-all devices at a price point that kinda hides the fact that they are as powerful as computers from just six years ago. Neat right? I think so, and I think that consumers who are not so techie are thinking so in some degree too.
You see, there is some truth to the idea that the market for traditional handhelds is getting smaller. When you look at it from the numbers of who is buying a new one, that really would be the case. But what about the case for those who have had one and it has literally worked for them for years. I think that if we look at the market from that standpoint, that it makes handhelds look a lot better than they are. I mean sure, many folks are not turning to their PDAs to be full computer replacements, but they were bought to do a job. And what do you know, for a whole lotta folks, what works simply is what works best.
One of the things that makes me smile some is visiting people where I went to school in Pennsylvania. While all of them know me, and know that I keep up with technology, it is amazing how in each visit that I am reminded of something: the technology they have picked up and use is much more about getting a problem solved, rather than showing off the latest thing.
I know there is no way to change the already proclaimed case for the “end of the disconnected PDA,” but if it does get a closing argument, I am sure that it would sound something like,”we do not do more than what we have been asked, and we do it simply. We have asked to be taken for what we are, and for those that do we have given years of good service.” Now how many of us who switch smartphones a few times a year could hear our tech plead the case on that one?