The Unconnected PDA's Days Are Numbered

New market research from IDC claims the market for the unconnected PDA is in decline. The evolution of the mobile phone, wireless services and voice-enabled devices are pushing the PDA market towards the connected converged device.

IDC predicts that in 2003, the worldwide handheld device industry will decline by 8.4% to 11.35 million units, its second straight year of decline. This trend has fpushed the PDA makers into looking to converged mobile device production. From mobile phones to converged mobile devices, which combine the data capabilities of PDAs with the voice communication capabilities of mobile phones, competing device types will draw buyers away from traditional handheld devices.

The converged mobile device market will see its strongest year of growth in 2003 as a number of new Symbian OS-powered devices push worldwide shipment totals beyond 13 million units. "As device aesthetics and functionality improve and end-user prices continue to decline, converged mobile devices are becoming increasingly accessible to the mainstream consumer and are expected to ship in greater numbers than traditional handheld devices for the first time in 2003," says Kevin Burden, manager of IDC's Mobile Device research team. Market growth is expected to remain strong throughout 2007 as a growing percentage of mobile phones adopt high-end operating systems; a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 86% is expected through the forecast period.

"The killer applications of mobile voice and text communication continue to drive converged mobile device sales upward. As vendor strategies mature, a greater number of voice-centric devices or 'smartphones' are reaching market with significant volume potential as primary-use mobile phones." says Alex Slawsby, research analyst in IDC's Mobile Device research team. "Demand for non-voice enabled handheld devices remains depressed as mixed economic conditions, competition from alternative devices, and limited worldwide appeal impact market expansion."

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wohoo, I'm the first one!

Morph @ 8/20/2003 12:20:22 PM #
Wow, first time I've been able to be the first to reply! wohooo!!

Anyways, If Sprint would hurry up with their T608 model phone I wouldn't be "disconnected".


For what shall it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world, but lose his own soul.

joelforeman @ 8/20/2003 12:55:38 PM #
Sorry, but it's not going to happen. Sony-Ericsson has said that they are not going to be making CDMA (Sprint/Verizon) phones. Which I personally think sucks.
Yeah, no T608
zkmusa @ 8/20/2003 2:44:20 PM #
Yeah, there's a huge discussion about it over at

RE: wohoo, I'm the first one!
arielb @ 8/22/2003 1:46:57 AM #
are there any bluetooth phones for verizon?

Forced Convergence

hobbit @ 8/20/2003 1:02:36 PM #
I wish more Service providers would give us more Bluetooth enabled phones, allowing us to use two seperate devices for web and e-mail access,
It is almost as if they are forceing us into "convergence".

RE: Forced Convergence
ComputerBob @ 8/20/2003 1:10:01 PM #
yes, they are forcing you. One company wants you to buy from them. the phone company isnt going to give u blu tooth so u can go out and buy a palm, they are going to make a PDA phone so they get you to buy both things (one unit) from them. and the pda company is going to add the phone in (handspring) so u buy from them

RE: Forced Convergence
Altema @ 8/20/2003 1:12:31 PM #
It seemed to take forever for Cingular to get a phone I wanted, but they do now. They just came out with the Sony-Ericsson T616, and I am loving this phone! It and my T|T are best buds now...

RE: Forced Convergence
DocJim @ 8/20/2003 1:18:36 PM #
I essentially agree on "forced convergence"--actually I wanted a PDA/phone combination now. I want some choices, though I like the convergence concept.

But I just purchased a phone from Verizon, which will give me beeper and phone capability in one.
In two years, I will be in the market again and I will hope to find the whole ball of wax in one: with phone and PDA and a modest message beeper function. I would like to get my computer and PDA/phone/beeper to synchronize. I don't really want to surf the web on my phone. It cannot cope with that fancy new stuff and will always run behind the desktop PC. That's okay, who needs ALL of the WEB at ALL of the TIME?

I find the current offerings very expensive and I cannot have my choice of telecoms and hardware. It is a disappointment to see the PDA business drag its feet.

The big question is, who will successfully make this hybrid device? Will Palm make phones or Nokia make PDAs or will MS provide all the factories with the software for the Wdowz phone? By the way, I am a nearly happy Handspring Platinum user for two years this week. It cost $200 and my new phone after rebate will be $130. I cannot find a good combo phone PDA for $330. I can find a nearly good one for $500. My choice of PDA/phone was complicated by choosing the cell provider. I gave up on the choices and settled for two boxes and paying less money.

RE: Forced Convergence
Miss Clie @ 8/20/2003 2:58:42 PM #
I don't want convergence. Not that it wouldn't be cool to walk around with just a PDA, surfing the net and chatting on the phone.

But there are times, and places, where you can't do both. A good example is on a plane. You can't turn on your phone. This is probably the stupidest rule ever, but in the meantime, how do go about using your PDA bits when they're yelling at you without comprehension?

Same thing in companies with privacy issues, and certain public places. That's why I don't want a camera on my phone or PDA, either. If you're carrying around something that may inhibit the use of the more useful item, then it's not worth having it attached.

Downtime/turnover factor: If my cell stuff craps out, or I get sick of the features, or they change the network, then I get a new phone. On the off chance that my PDA craps out *someday*, I'll get a new PDA. But to replace an entire unit, and have that type of disruption, I don't need the headache. Oh, and don't forget when they 'push upgrade' your phone info or wank your data, *because they can*. I see the combo as a security risk for my data.

Power: Do I want to be attached by umbilical cord to a power source? My phone charge lasts one day. I use my PDA so much, it lasts only a bit longer than a day. Put the two together, and it'll last until lunch. I use both a LOT. Too much for them to share a single source. Yet, anyway.

Configuration: I want the super-PDA. The 320x480, lots o'memory, fast, no external keyboard, clean/neat, bluetooth model (of my dreams). I don't see how they can shoehorn a viable phone into this with any kind of battery life and no numeric buttons. Okay, I can, but I don't see them trying to do it. I don't want to hold it up to my face; it'd be earbud-only, or BT headset. I want to be *using* it while I'm on the phone, duh!

So convergence to me is like underwear that crawls up your butt. It looks cute on the hanger, sure, it technically does the job, but it's not comfortable, and it annoys the crap out of you all day.

RE: Forced Convergence
Hazniet @ 8/20/2003 4:16:44 PM #
I agree Miss Clie, someone whould come up with a connected PDA similar to palm T|C with bluetooth and 320x480 screen without the keyboard. Add a BT headset that matches the PDA and you've got one heck of a device. Furthermore you could upgrade headsets with more functionality.

BT has such a high potential, just underdeveloped.

If you feel like you're under control, you're just not going fast enough.

RE: Forced Convergence
Tere @ 8/21/2003 11:10:54 AM #

I'd rather keep my cell phone and PDA seperate. WiFi
and/or BT on a PDA would be useful. I also don't want a
camera on either my PDA or phone.

I asked myself, do I want my phone to crash as often as
my computer? Even with an OS as stable as PalmOS, I
decided no. Would a non-PDA PalmOS phone be more stable?
Maybe, maybe not. I'll let others find out first. Keep
phones simple, I say.

- Tere

RE: Forced Convergence
Altema @ 8/21/2003 1:48:15 PM #
I prefer a separate PDA and phone as well. I consider most phones as expendable, while I'm much more dependent on my PDA. If I forget my phone and I'm almost at work, I do without. If I forget my PDA, I turn around.

The camera in the phone is a cute novelty, but I had no choice in the matter. The quality is not good enough for much else.

RE: Forced Convergence
JKingGrim @ 8/21/2003 10:47:14 PM #
yes, they are forcing you. One company wants you to buy from them. the phone company isnt going to give u blu tooth so u can go out and buy a palm, they are going to make a PDA phone so they get you to buy both things (one unit) from them. and the pda company is going to add the phone in (handspring) so u buy from them

This makes Palm's aquisition of Handspring a great move.

Right now I don't need a cell phone, but I'm thinking in a year or two my next device might be converged. I like the Idea of getting on the internet and AIM anywhere. With multitasking in OS6, it will make things even better. I just hope high-end features won't have to be sacraficed for the wireless.

Convergence is already here. Deal with it.
The Ugly Truth @ 8/23/2003 9:09:47 PM #
Traditional PDAs (for the most part) are for technophiles and geeks. This is a relatively small market and has zero growth. On the other hand, everyone wants/needs a cell phone.

Walk into any cell phone store and take a look at what's already on the market and ask yourself why Joe Average is going to carry a PDA brick in addition to his cellphone that already provides digital camera, schedule, address book, alarm clock etc. Many people stopped wearing watches once they were made redundant by tiny cellphones. Giving up a separate PDA will be an even more obvious decision.

RE: Forced Convergence
The Ugly Truth @ 8/23/2003 9:27:46 PM #
I don't want convergence.

Sony, Palm etc. don't care.

What geeks want/don't want is of little concern to manufacturers. It's a lot easier making money by catering to the wants of Walmart Willy than it is trying to appease the whims of techno geeks. (Bluetooth! 320 x 480! 16 bit color! SD! CF! Thin! Light! WiFi! Transreflective screen! Flip over! No flip cover! Virtual Graffiti! Sliding case! No sliding case! Keyboard! No keyboard!) You need to hope a fringe manufacturer can survive Sony's onslaught and be willing to build what you want in the years to come. Don't count on it.

Cost factors

Kesh @ 8/20/2003 1:06:37 PM #
I don't see unconnected PDAs going away anytime soon. Until the price for Bluetooth, 802.xx, and cellular technology declines drastically, there will still be people unwilling to pay more than $100 for a PDA. Heck, some people won't pay more than $20 for those cheap 'pocket organizers' at Wal-Mart!

I'm thinking 5-10 years before what those of us here consider a true PDA reaches that kind of ubiquity in the market, where it's cheaper to have connectivity than to leave it out. And even then, we'll have a Palm Zire equivalent for $25 at your local grocery store with no connectivity at all.

RE: Cost factors
dd61999 @ 8/20/2003 1:16:46 PM #
I agree i dont think its going away anytime soon because there is still limited availability in connected pda and the price for the devices and services are very expensive at the moment, however I dont think we have to wait 5-10 years I would nsay in the next 2-3 years

RE: Cost factors
Palm Cow @ 8/20/2003 2:19:21 PM #
Although you have a point, even the m150 Zire has IR, a form of wireless.

Kevin | Iospeff
Current PDA: SJ20
RE: Cost factors
arielb @ 8/20/2003 2:37:51 PM #
the point is this: nobody would tolerate a pc that didn't have internet access. Lots of people still tolerate a pda that doesn't have internet

RE: Cost factors
JonAcheson @ 8/20/2003 7:24:16 PM #
Seriously. How many Zires has Palm sold? How many are they going to sell next year once the new one is out?

Although, if you want to mince words, all Palm devices are "connected" since they are able to sync with the desktop, and any device that can't do this is worthless.

"All opinions posted are my own, and not those of my employers, who are appalled."

RE: Cost factors
Ben S @ 8/20/2003 8:34:10 PM #
> Seriously. How many Zires has Palm sold?

Palm has sold more Zire m150's than any other model, making the Zire the best selling PDA in history, since the Palm V used to hold that title (I think... or it could have been the Palm III).

I think that means that while convergence devices might be on the upswing, there's still a huge demand for a simple elecronic organizer, too. Convergence devices still lack the right combination of form factor and UI to succeed, IMHO.

Why Sprint and Verizon won't adopt Bluetooth

sralmas @ 8/20/2003 2:22:44 PM #
Here's my theory on why Sprint and Verizon are so slow to offer Bluetooth phones:

The CDMA network depends upon the presence of cell towers for service. As I understand it, GSM does not.

CDMA providers are concerned that, with the availability of Bluetooth phones, folks will begin to use them with laptops and PDAs for data access, which will put a strain on the existing network. This would force them to have to put up more towers, which costs money and the return on that investment isn't there for the providers.

Just a theory I've been working with. What do you think?

RE: Why Sprint and Verizon won't adopt Bluetooth
cyruski @ 8/20/2003 3:01:08 PM #
but don't these people who would connect with bluetooth -already- use IR or cable to connect? i don't think anybody would set bluetooth as a "wait factor" when deciding to set up a wireless data system

RE: Why Sprint and Verizon won't adopt Bluetooth
cbowers @ 8/20/2003 3:21:12 PM #
"The CDMA network depends upon the presence of cell towers for service. As I understand it, GSM does not."

That would be a neat trick... GSM is merely a different protocol of communication. It still works over the same type of towers and antennas, and base stations connected back to a central switch facility. GSM though uses a different set of frequencies, and uses them differently. Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) versus, Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA).

"CDMA providers are concerned that, with the availability of Bluetooth phones, folks will begin to use them with laptops and PDAs for data access, which will put a strain on the existing network. This would force them to have to put up more towers, which costs money and the return on that investment isn't there for the providers."

Nope. They already offer data through the handsets, with connections via cable, and even rarely IR and Bluetooth. Data is in multiple flavors. Like GSM, Circuit switched data (CSD) is possible, though with GSM it's typically at 9600Kbps in North America, and CSD is offered at 14.4Kbps on NA CDMA networks. Also available on CDMA networks (IS-95), is Quick Net Connect (QNC). The data rate is still 14.4K, but you don't need a third party ISP, the cell provider handles the data call. There's no analog portion, or modem bank dialup, so the call setup is nearly immediate like with GPRS or 1xRTT connections. Lastly is the 1xRTT data service available on most NA CDMA providers networks now. It's on average marginally faster that the typical GSM/GPRS data rates offered, and you either use the service through a PCMCIA card like the Sierra Wireless Aircard 555, or through your 1xRTT capable CDMA handset, typically via a cable.
The thing is, that CDMA allows more callers per tower than TDMA based networks (GSM or IS-136). So it's actually *MUCH* easier and less costly for a CDMA network to provide data to large numbers of customers than it is on a GSM network. And the connection uses much less power on a CDMA network to accomplish the data call.

It's for this reason that even GSM networks will be migrating to a CDMA air interface on most of the 3G and beyond roadmaps you look at. It's still an evolved version of the GSM protocol (currently called either UMTS or IMT-2000), merely using a CDMA air interface, monikered Wideband CDMA (WCDMA).

There's really no good reason for there not to be more bluetooth enabled CDMA handsets. Except that 1xEVD0 (the next step after 1xRTT) is already in trials in the US and in use elsewhere and the data rates exceed that of Bluetooth. Hence it's time, at least for a cellular interface to move on and consider putting some flavor of 802.11 into the cellular handsets. Especially since the cost per chip, in volume for WiFi has already dropped below Bluetooth according to perusals of EETimes and DigiTimes. In fact this has already been announced as forthcoming by Qualcomm for CDMA chipsets that they produce.

RE: Why Sprint and Verizon won't adopt Bluetooth
hkklife @ 8/20/2003 3:41:38 PM #
My personal theory on why Sprint and Verizon are slow (ie totally ignoring) BT is because they'd rather peddle a sluggish, underpowered PDA/phone hybrid that brings in big $$$ for them. Also, if Joe 6-pack has trouble making his T|T talk to his BT-enabled cell phone, Verizon and Sprint are probably worried about customers pestering them (both in their retail stores and otherwise) and trying to get them to do troubleshooting that they'd rather pawn off on Palm etc.

For example, if you want a smartphone that is currently available (as in walk in the store this afternoon and buy one) your choices are frighteningly limited, especially if you want a moderately powerful Palm OS device (yes, yes, I know all about battery life compromises and the amount of time for testing/approval needed for a wireless device between conceptual stages and landing in retail).

All of the (current) Samsungs are unwildy and lack SD slots. The Treos, while a decent overall package, are nothing at all for the power user-and still having 160*160? best, it'll be a headache to get to work with OS5-native apps looking for 320*320, especially most games (I assume). The Kyocera smartphone(s) are ok but still are reminiscent of a flipphone circa 1997 in size-and have specs comparable to an m105/515 Palm of two years ago.

When someone comes out with a smartphone that has reasonably current specs, then I'll be all over it.
Otherwise, I'd be totally content with a T|T3 with oodles of ram and battery life--I have no need for Wi-Fi and even less need for BT. It'd be nice to see a high-powered Tungsten of some sort that omits wireless in favor of a reduced price tag and/or a mega high-capacity battery in a smaller body than the C's. When was the last time anyone around here went for day and days without charging their Palm? For me, it was when I got rid of my trusty Vx two years+ ago. Palm needs to try and recapture some of the charm of the long battery life-one of the things that made me buy an original Pilot years ago.

RE: Why Sprint and Verizon won't adopt Bluetooth
Fammy @ 8/20/2003 3:48:49 PM #
I have. I won't get a cell phone until I can get a good bluetooth enabled model.

-- Fammy
RE: Why Sprint and Verizon won't adopt Bluetooth
Altema @ 8/21/2003 1:59:53 PM #
Note: Quotes are from multiple sources

"They already offer data through the handsets, with connections via cable, and even rarely IR and Bluetooth."

You're right, CDMA data access has been around, and BT would only replace the data cable or IR link between the PDA/PC and the phone. I used to spend a lot of time online with my old Nokia via IR. I believe the speed was hampered by IR. Using BT over a GPRS phone seems much faster, but I'm not sure what the connection speed may be. I know I used to hate having to line up the IR...

"Verizon and Sprint are probably worried about customers pestering them (both in their retail stores and otherwise) and trying to get them to do troubleshooting that they'd rather pawn off on Palm etc."

It took the Cingular reps and tech support about 2 hours to get the internet connection working on a Sony-Ericsson T616. It took another 45 minues to get it working with my Palm, but I never had to go back after that. I will say that this was their very first one they had to setup, and they never made me feel like I was pestering them. Don't know if Sprint and Verizon would be as patient though.

"When was the last time anyone around here went for day and days without charging their Palm?"

That would have been with my M515, which could outlast all my other handhelds except the IIIe. That history includes the IIIe, IIIxe, IIIc, M505, M505, M505, M505, M505 (no, my keyboard is not stuck), M515, and the T|T.

Interestingly enough, I just did repairs a few days ago on an M505 and thought I'd load BatteryGraph and loop a movie till it died. Doing the same thing with my T|T, I put them both in the drawer and went to sleep. In the morning, I found that the M505 had run for 2:56 before the low battery warning popped up to halt the movie. The T|T ran for 3:42, so I guess battery life can be a relative thing depending on how you use it. Even though my IIIe and M515 were king of the hill (for me) regarding battery life, they did not spend much time rendering maps, tracing GPS routes, and playing MP3's at the same time!

RE: Why Sprint and Verizon won't adopt Bluetooth
Medic553 @ 8/21/2003 9:32:09 PM #
I have Verizon and I have a T|T as others do as well, how do all of you with the same gadgets use your palm for internet and E-mail?

connected does not mean converged

hotpaw4 @ 8/20/2003 5:35:29 PM #
Probably 90% of all personal computers sold have built-in modems or ethernet ports or wifi, plus microphones and speakers. However, almost nobody buys a PC or Mac for local phone calls instead of a telephone.

Converged devices may be too much of a compromise to get much market share, IMHO. A fashionable cell phone is just to small for a really good PDA user interface, both in terms of text input and display size.

RE: connected does not mean converged
guesswho @ 8/20/2003 6:19:25 PM #
'too much of a compromise ' huh...?

is that the same excuse as PDA can't have big screen because it takes too much battery life, or how ARM CPU is overkill?

RE: connected does not mean converged
helf @ 8/20/2003 10:06:02 PM #
oh, Don't get into that kinda war again.

But I agree with him. I'd rather have a pda with a decent sized keyboard than a tiny phone. Buts thats jsut me, and not everyone. so you'll say " then dont buy one". I won't :D

/me pats his trusty ericsson mc218

RE: connected does not mean converged
stillaresident @ 8/20/2003 10:39:19 PM #
I'm not sure if anybody has yet mentioned the possible functionality of having a single consumer have the Palm OS power multiple devices that are not necessarily trying to be a "PDA".

I am looking forward to the day that my cell phone will have the Palm OS for me to mostly use the basic OS functions (e.g. address book, to do list, memos, etc) while I will also have a more traditional sized PDA for the above functions plus reading reference materials, accessing databases, etc.

AND, furthermore, I am especially looking forward to the day that I will also have a mini-notebook (like a bigger Sony UX50) or mini-tablet that I can use for full wireless web surfing, serious word processing/data entry, and powerpoint presentations.

Assuming I can synchronize the databases of all 3 separate palm devices easily, I can definitely appreciate how the Palm OS can make each device better and provide a much higher overall level of efficiency and function for my personal/business needs.

I can only dream...

RE: connected does not mean converged
arielb @ 8/27/2003 2:53:11 AM #
I'm also looking foward to a pair of pants that can hold all these devices without falling down :)

worthless expensive research

drw @ 8/21/2003 3:06:43 AM #
IDC takes reasonably common sense conclusions that anyone could surmise and sells them for thousands of $$$. Pretty lucrative business for professional guessers these days. Fair and balanced? "we decided, now we'll report it to you" :-)

RE: worthless expensive research
PDA Guy @ 8/21/2003 10:12:27 PM #
These same folks have been saying this (that converged devices will kill of the separate PDA) for a couple of years now. Ditto the other professional guessers at Gartner, etc.

These same geniuses have also predicted for a LONG time now that Palm OS was going to be CRUSHED in the "next year or two" by Pocket PC (or whatever its called that year).

Uh... Yeah. I'm not worried about the PDA market anytime soon. And anyone that is betting any short term dollars on converged devices is going to lose their shirts. Just take a look at the Tungsten W and driving-the-company-to-the-verge-of-bankruptcy Treo series, and you don't need to look any further.

10-20 yrs from now? Sure, I can maybe see it (when converged devices can be brought to market at a heck of a lot lower price point). But short term the PDA still has a huge market and the companies making them need to spend time improving on them rather than going after what they perceive to be "the future".

A dissenting opinion

ScottL @ 8/21/2003 7:51:16 AM #
I totally disagree. I work in a hospital where there is a computer terminal in almost every room along with a phone. Thus while I move from room to room, I have no need for a phone or wireless on my PDA. Am I the only one in such a situation?

RE: A dissenting opinion
arielb @ 8/22/2003 1:50:47 AM #
what do you do when you leave the hospital? now how are you going to check your email?

RE: A dissenting opinion
ScottL @ 8/22/2003 7:52:21 AM #
Uhhh my home you really need to check your e-mail everywhere you are?

RE: A dissenting opinion
arielb @ 8/27/2003 2:48:57 AM #
true and I guess if it's urgent they can always reach you by text msg'ing your cell phone
on the other hand where I work there are no computers and I have to wait a long time before I can do anything on the web

One thing ... the service cost.

RhinoSteve @ 8/22/2003 10:51:34 PM #
No matter what is said here, there will always be a market for a PDA that you don't have to use that has a monthly cost to it.


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