PocketFactory's Mobile Technology Predictions for 2005

The world is still spinning and a new year is here. This year Kent from PocketFactory dusted off his mystical crystal ball (actually an old bowling ball) to ouijia board us into 2005. Read on and see what the year will bring for Mobile and wireless technology for all platforms.

Mobile Tech 2005 PredictionsYou can read Kent's PocketFactory last years predictions here. PalmInfocenter's past predictions can be found here: 2004 2003 2002.

Mobile Device Sector
The PDA market continues its onward declining trend. Whatís happening to cause this trend is not just the migration from PDAs to Smartphones; but also the fact that there are few revenue opportunities left in this market. Simply put; you canít make money selling handhelds. Competition and declining price expectations have forced vendors to cut margins to the bone. And the only way to make money on PDAs is to sell in massive volumes; which is never going to happen considering PDAs are a niche product category. If the handheld market had the scale and robustness of the mobile phone sector, everyone would be rolling in profit. Not so.

To that end, look for vendor focus to shift almost completely on Smartphones and PDAs with Phone capabilities, especially on the Pocket PC. On the PDA front I expect to see PalmOS continue its loss to Windows Mobile.

We can expect further attrition to take place among makers of handhelds as well. Selection among traditional PDA offerings will decline sharply. The next major vendor to pull up stakes will be Dell, but I have my doubts that will happen this year. Considering this isnít a market where Dell can dominate or profit, and itís a declining sector, there is little reason for Dell to be here other than to act as a thorn in HPís belly. But donít count them out completely. I expect weíll see something in the Smartphone or PDA Phone category emerge based on dual wireless architectures (CDMA and GSM), but Dell will market directly to corporate customers through agreements with wireless carriers.

In terms of new features, look for the first hard drive based PDAs to arrive later this year, most likely from the Pocket PC camp, not PalmOne.

HP will make some significant cutbacks to its PDA line, while beefing up its Smartphone offerings. When all is said and done, HP and PalmOne will be the last remaining providers of traditional personal digital assistants.

Tapwaveís gaming strategy does not pay off. Zodiac failed to take off beyond the realm of Palm enthusiasts. And it still lacks sufficient content to make it a credible gaming platform. Once Sony releases its new gaming handheld here in the US, itís game over for Zodiac. Unless Tapwave can change its focus or shift strategies, there isnít much hope. I see Zodiac competing more with devices like Microsoft Portable Media Center devices than gaming handhelds. My prediction; throughout 2005, Tapwave will spend most of its efforts and resources on forming alliances and partnerships designed to extend its brand and move the Zodiac into more channels. Some interesting things may come from this, but the net effect remains unchanged.

New Year, New Software
Both Microsoft and PalmSource now have very similar strategies with their mobile platforms. And as I said before, you can expect both platforms to now focus almost exclusively on Smartphone capabilities. 2005 will be a wakeup call to the PDA enthusiast community as an illustration of how badly fortunes have changed. PalmSource will focus most of its attention this year on moving its platform over to Linux (abandoning Cobalt in the future), and strengthening PalmOSís gaming capabilities for mobile phones. Next year we can expect to see the initial release of a Linux-based PalmOS.

Microsoft will release its revamped OS for Smartphones and PDAs which should be available by Q2. The big surprise here is that Microsoft is shifting its entire focus now on its Smartphone platform, and the Phone edition of Pocket PC. Traditional plain vanilla Pocket PC is dead, or little more than an afterthought. This is going to shock the Pocket PC community to its foundation. A number of improvements will be added, including a somewhat new interface for Pocket PC that is now optimized for phones, not PDAs. Beyond that, nothing really new or exciting here.

Cobalt arrivesÖfinally!
?Contrary to PalmOne VP Ed Coliganís statement to the media; the handheld vendor will in fact release hardware based on Cobalt. The downside is that it will likely only be one Tungsten model which will replace the badly outdated Tungsten C, and the Tungsten T5 (which flops badly). And it will have a VGA screen, the first of its kind for PalmOS. PalmOne will begin paring back its PDA line, and by the end of this year, the entire handheld line may come down to just two or three models. Look for them to abandon the entry level Zire line.

Later in the year PalmOne will introduce an addition to the Treo line; a lower cost Smartphone geared towards consumers.

And despite hints to the media, a Treo based on Microsoftís Windows Mobile platform will not happen this year. But it is coming.

Research In Motion (RIM) proves to be the dark horse this year, experiencing phenomenal growth, even outpacing both PalmSource and Microsoft based solutions. But I also predict they may license PalmOS and offer a Blackberry Smartphone based on that operating system.

A New Hope?
There may be some good news for PDA enthusiasts, as I anticipate PalmSource will gain one new licensee that will develop ďtraditionalĒ handhelds. But donít look for much activity in this space. The glory days are over for PDAs. 2004 gave us a glimpse of that reality, and 2005 will write the final chapter. Sorry folks, the PDA revolution is overÖwe lost.

-Kent, PocketFactory.com

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gone with Rather

RhinoSteve @ 1/19/2005 10:23:40 PM # Q
Nice set of predictions. Yes Cobalt will be showing its blue luster sooner than most of us think.

... and I predict Mike Cane out of here and discredited as much as Rather and company at CBS News were ax'ed this year.

RE: gone with Rather
mikecane @ 1/20/2005 9:25:38 AM # Q
Before he resigned, Dan told me he thought George W. Bush's father would buy palmOne.

RE: gone with Rather
RhinoSteve @ 1/20/2005 4:22:45 PM # Q
Reply to this comment


Gekko @ 1/19/2005 10:34:21 PM # Q

If you throw enough shiit against the wall, something's going to stick.

RE: If
hkklife @ 1/19/2005 10:59:18 PM # Q
I agree with most of the above--to a point.

I doubt Dell will pull out of the handheld market anytime but they will scale back their offerings and focus mostly on selling the Axim to corporate customers.

HP is going to give a strong push to smartphones and will likely meet with more success there than their new venture into consumer electronics.

I don't see the Zire ling being ditched but basically scaled back to just endless minor permutations of the Z31 and Z72. Tungsten line will basically be a $200 T|E2 style model and a higher-end keyboard T|C2 wi-fi model (OS uncertain).

Tapwave was DOA. Had it been targeted as the uber-Tungsten initially and laden with all of the features the power users are begging for, we'd likely be singing a different song now. Their announcement that there won't be a new Zod until 2006 (at the earliest!) was basically the white flag being waved. An absolute pity, too.

Beyond that?
2006 will be an absolute banner year for smartphones IMHO. P1 will do ok on Treos...if they are still around in their current form at that time.

Reply to this comment

The end of simplicity

ackmondual @ 1/19/2005 11:24:19 PM # Q
I don't give a rat's ass about smartphones. Give me a big screen PDA anyday at a fraction of the price w/o the features I won't use. Sad thing is, even among smartphones, basic models seem to be going away. Every damn smartphone has to have a camera for one thing.

[signature0]the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse[/signature0]
[signature1]My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71.... so ends the "marathon", for now[/signature1]
RE: The end of simplicity
ackmondual @ 1/19/2005 11:33:32 PM # Q
and P1 should retain at least 1 greyscale PDA. Some ppl may appreciate the MUCH longer battery life (OK, so not really a whole lot of MANY ppl, but still if color PDAs aren't cheap to be the same price or battery life as B&W PDAs, it should still be an option). Just so long as it's NOT in the lines of that dreaded Zire 21.

[signature0]the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse[/signature0]
[signature1]My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71.... so ends the "marathon", for now[/signature1]
RE: The end of simplicity
hkklife @ 1/19/2005 11:55:03 PM # Q
I'd rather see a cheap Asian company (Apex, Daewoo etc) come out with a "clone" Palm device with, essentially, the Z31 featureset but greyscale and AAA battery capability. If it was $75-$90ish it'd sell like hotcakes to the Target/Wal-Mart crowd. Palm squandered a lot of the budget of the Zire and Z21 with the rechargable battery. I'd have rather seen a backlight and proper hard buttons.

At any rate, profit margins are so impossibly razor thin for anyone selling a retail device with a licensed OS in this price range that I don't see anything below the Z31 and most future P1 units selling in the sweet spot of $150-$200.

RE: The end of simplicity
bdholmes @ 1/21/2005 9:33:20 AM # Q
I agree with ackmondual's comments above. I still use a Palm Vx, and I don't think a better PDA has been made since. I'm on my 4th Palm Vx, I take it everywhere with me.

Palm has been led by Microsoft up the gadgets garden path and has lost sight of what made it succesful. I don't want a colour screen if it means I can't read ebooks in bed because my Palm has to be charging, I don't want a colour screen if it means I don't want to take my Palm with me because it's too big. For the same reasons, I don't want a camera, a 600Mhz processor, WIFI, stereo speakers, dual memory sockets, etc, etc. Give me a Vx-sized device (that means 11mm thick) with decent battery life with bluetooth and perhaps an MP3 player, and I'll buy it without hesitation. Why, when all other technology gets smaller over time, has Palm made it's PDAs bigger?

(Palm Vx --> Palm Vx --> Palm Vx --> Palm Vx)

RE: The end of simplicity
svrontis @ 1/22/2005 1:27:37 AM # Q
Well said. One nitpick - the m500 was probably better than the Vx.

RE: The end of simplicity
bdholmes @ 2/1/2005 12:51:55 PM # Q
OK I'll concede that due to the SD card slot, however the M500 is harder to get hold of on Ebay. C'mon Palm, keep to the Vx/M500 form factor!

Reply to this comment

Where's Mike Cane's predictions?

mikecane @ 1/20/2005 9:20:19 AM # Q
Oh, wait a minute...

PDAs are dead.

So are predictions.

Go Mac Mini!

RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
mikecane @ 1/20/2005 9:22:43 AM # Q
>>>Mike Cane is predicting PalmOne will be acquired by Oracle, which is an interesting, if frightening, notion. I donít see such an event taking place, at least not this year. I believe they will continue to survive independently.

My God. That was for LAST year. Oracle went with PeopleSoft. I'm sure PeopleSoft wish they had gone with the Palm package.

My one prediction: Look for a Mac Mobile or Mac2Go Sony-U-like device by year's end.

RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
jasondeno @ 1/20/2005 10:21:33 AM # Q
Palm break out Handspring
Then Palm breaks out hardware and software companies into separate entities
After allowing licensees, Palm re-acquires Handspring
Palm begins ditching PalmOne for Linux
Now Palm will get acquired by someone else?

Boy, if they put half the effort of their business mergers into designing an innovative product, I think we'd have something!

RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
Foo Fighter @ 1/20/2005 10:25:37 AM # Q
Uh...did I hear this right? Cane is buying a Mac Mini?

Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com
RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
mikecane @ 1/20/2005 10:44:40 AM # Q
I hope so. What's wrong with a Mac Mini?!

RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
mikecane @ 1/20/2005 10:44:40 AM # Q
I just went to your site. I see *you* ordered one.

Eh, SuperDrive is $100 more. You can easily use an external. It'd probably be cheaper too. Or. So. I. Hope.

RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
Foo Fighter @ 1/20/2005 11:13:36 AM # Q
Yes, the SuperDrive is $100 but it's worth it for me to have that feature built-in rather than using an external drive. Funny thing is...the Mini is so small it's probably smaller than an external DVD burner! 8^
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com
RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
mikecane @ 1/20/2005 2:34:15 PM # Q
I'm typing this at the SoHo Apple Store. My first visit. My God! This is like XMas!

Someone got his Mini already and posted pics:


There's a LaCie DVD/RW here with an aluminum case -- it seems bigger than the Mini, just looking at it!

RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
Foo Fighter @ 1/20/2005 4:14:53 PM # Q
I'm not seeing any images on my PC's screen in that link. Works fine on my iMac though. Is this guy running a script to block PC users or something?

Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com
RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
Strider_mt2k @ 1/21/2005 9:08:34 AM # Q
Man that thing is tiny.

No problems viewing here at work.
Using FireFox under Win98SE

RE: Where's Mike Cane's predictions?
a @ 1/22/2005 2:52:54 AM # Q
maybe we should slap a flat led screen and a battery on the mac mini and rename this macmininfocenter, seeing how the palm is dead ;)
i think it will be fun to see what kinds of mods people do to these things. im already concidering my car.

I love my Treo 90
Reply to this comment

RIM unlikely to offer Palm OS device

EricGiguere @ 1/20/2005 11:39:31 AM # Q
It seems doubtful to me that RIM would release a device running anything else than their proprietary operating system, the core of which is a custom Java VM that is used for almost all the client-side apps. In fact, RIM has been licensing their environment to other device manufacturers through their BlackBerry Built-In program. Siemens has released a phone with BlackBerry support, for example. RIM also licenses its email connectivity through the BlackBerry Connect program, and PalmSource has signed up for that program.

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Dell Smartphones???

Rome @ 1/20/2005 11:59:49 AM # Q
"but Dell will market directly to corporate customers through agreements with wireless carriers."

I don't think that we will see this any time soon. What will Dell bring to the table that other cell phones vendors can't? The PC direct distribution model does not work in every market. So Dell will probably repackage and resell some HTC phones, and this will make the cell providers want to give up valuable customer relationship and potential profit????

I disagaree.

Reply to this comment

Unlikely that Palm will can the Zires

JonAcheson @ 1/20/2005 12:01:38 PM # Q
Though, it would be nice if Palm would make them nicer, and particularly thinner.

The last time I heard, Palm was selling more Zires than they were any other model besides the E.

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

Reply to this comment

Wrong, right, wrong.

AdamaDBrown @ 1/20/2005 1:01:03 PM # Q
Re: the declining handheld market... People keep saying this, and it doesn't make it true. Handheld sales are relatively steady, aside from the predictable seasonal highs and lows, and they continue to outclass smartphones by a factor of three to one. I equate people saying that the handheld market is dead with people saying that the automobile market was dead after Ford sold a couple of million models, on the grounds that everyone who needs a car now has one. Desktop PCs were around for what, 15-20 years before they became staples of the home? Likewise cell phones. Compared to other forms of technology, handhelds are practically on the fast-track.

There's absolutely no reason for Dell to pull out of the market, and you're wrong in assuming that they can't dominate. While they're hurt by a lack of retail presence, their sales have been climbing continuously, and they pose a noticible threat to HP and PalmOne.

I agree on embedded hard drives and the fate of Tapwave.

The chances of VGA on a Palm are almost non-existant. It would break all existing full-screen 320 x 480 software. And PalmOne is not abandoning the Zires under any circumstances. Zire sales make up a large percentage of P1's sales, and without them they would sink to second or third place.

I disagree completely on the idea that PDAs are dead. That's been the chant of prognosticators for what, two years now? Since it was first decided that smartphones would kill handhelds, smartphones have languished in the technological back woods, and handhelds have gotten cheaper, more powerful, and more common.

RE: Wrong, right, wrong.
bcombee @ 1/20/2005 3:00:14 PM # Q
You can already see what VGA on Palm OS would look like using the Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 simulator. 480x640 is handled as a triple-density screen, with bitmaps scaled up from single, 1.5x, or 2x density if not supplied in a 3x form in the bitmap family. Since Palm OS screen coordinates for forms have stayed in 1x, it's easy for Palm OS to handle the new screen size, and that's a supported feature of Cobalt.

Ben Combee
http://palmos.combee.net - PDA programmer weblog
RE: Wrong, right, wrong.
temp_user @ 1/20/2005 4:21:25 PM # Q
Can you please answer this question. Why can't people at palmsource take one T5 hardware and load cobalt on it, and demonstrate cobalt on a PDA. From technical point of view, I don't understand why itís such a challenge, you have processor, memory, display, the motherboard etc. etc. Why would a licensee like palmone, who has the PDA hardware ready, have to wait 12 months to do just that.

RE: Wrong, right, wrong.
Gekko @ 1/20/2005 4:56:39 PM # Q

temp user - good question! I know MSFT and INTEL as well as other companies take their products and they actually build a working DEMO DEVICE to demonstrate an ACTUAL DEVICE running with their product rather than some BS simulator.

I think Cobalt is DEAD. Why? Because it's STILL not ready for prime time - to run correctly on a REAL DEVICE - AND - with the announcement of PalmLinux - it's already become OBSOLETE.

I blame this all on Eric Benahamou. This mofo hired Yankowski, Nagel, and the rest of the Apple-rejects. They all deserve to be pushed out of the industry. It's business, not personal - I hate them all.

RE: Wrong, right, wrong.
temp_user @ 1/20/2005 5:59:47 PM # Q
Well Gekko, if it was a good question, let us hope Mr. becomebee can give us a good answer.

Regarding cobalt, there are some aspects that makes it dead unless a major company breath life in it because:

1. Itís version 1.0, however palmsource call it, 6.1 or what ever version they put on it, unless it's tested on a PDA or a smart-phone by a thousand of different users, and they believe in it, its only version 1.0.

2.The developers need lots of unit sold to develop for it, and considering it can run Garnet programs, I hardly see business in developing specific for cobalt, so far!

3.Palmlinux, aha, what time frame are we talking about? By that time we might have Symbian 11.0 or worst Microsoft has made significant improvement on it OS, so what would this Palmlinux offer that makes it so superior?

I am a shareholder in palmsource, all I wish now is, they take care of Garnet, witch is a truly good OS, and improve it. There is a lot of money to be made around Garnet. But again, is palmsource run by business minded people or a bunch of programmers and visionaries.

RE: Wrong, right, wrong.
Wollombi @ 1/21/2005 4:51:14 PM # Q
Gonna go out on a limb here, but I don't think Tapwave will necessarily fade into oblivion. The company is run by some sharp people who have managed to make the company profitable with little "mainstream" exposure. Now they are in retail channels with the Zod, and can leverage that to their favor when (yes, when) they produce a more traditional PDA.

Here's another thing to think about. Tapwave is beginning to shift their focus. They aren't focusing solely on gaming anymore, because they know it's only a matter of time before the big green lizard of Sonly comes lumbering in to stomp on all of their nice, pretty profits. You can already see evidence of this in the updated software releases. More changes to come.

A long development cycle for their next product doesn't concern me much either. Provided that PDA's outlive the year, and most of us think they will if the posts here are any indication, then the long cycle will not hurt them, and the resulting product has a much better chance of being rock solid and stable. This can only be good. For Tapwave, and for the industry as a whole. If they release a solid product, market it well, and leverage their retail channels, I think they may just pull off a nice little coup. It'll be tricky, though.


Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

RE: Wrong, right, wrong.
Foo Fighter @ 1/22/2005 8:34:05 AM # Q
>> " when (yes, when) they produce a more traditional PDA."

Listen to me very carefully...Tapwave is NEVER going to produce a "traditional" PDA? How do I know that? Because I have chatted with Byron Connell several times on the subject and he made it clear his company is not investing in the PDA space. That mmarket is dead, and profitless (his own words). Tapwave is focussing its attention on the convergence market.

Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

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The PDA is dead, so what?

MoveableTech51 @ 1/20/2005 3:01:04 PM # Q
Oh the doom and gloom predictions are out...
Hey guys, wake up and smell the liquid caffiene. Of course the PDA is dead and well it should die. The smartphone is the next progression of handheld computing. For my money, a handheld computing device SHOULD incorporate wireless capabilities. The very idea of selling a handheld computing device without a way of connecting to the rest of the world is just plain STUPID, just like making a handheld without a color screen. I had a Tungsten W for a while, and I'm now looking forward to getting a Treo at some point in the future. Technology always marches on.

RE: The PDA is dead, so what?
RhinoSteve @ 1/20/2005 4:24:48 PM # Q
More like "The PDA is dead for techno geeks." I feel this is the year the PDA gets real, has wide use and most of all, is placed in uses that most nerds can get dates with but refuse since they are messing with some other technology.

... nanotech anyone?

RE: The PDA is dead, so what?
Strider_mt2k @ 1/20/2005 5:49:06 PM # Q
Kind of like how it went for desktop computers?

RE: The PDA is dead, so what?
Wollombi @ 1/21/2005 4:57:43 PM # Q
Smartphones will indeed take a chunk of the PDA market, but it will never supplant it. There will always be markets for both, depending on user wants/needs.

If PDA's weren't going to be profitable, the likes of Microsoft and HP wouldn't still be giving them the time of day. Nor would Michael Dell, who although he typically does his own thing, still knows how to be profitable.


Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

Reply to this comment

Tungsten C replacement.

JonAcheson @ 1/20/2005 6:13:38 PM # Q
This is one thing that's sure to happen: the C will get replaced by something. You can track the price on it and tell that it's approaching the end of its life.

I'm excited about the possibilities for a C replacement.

I'm guessing it will have a thumb-board, since WiFi and texting/email go hand in hand. And it will have the compulsory features: SD, rechargeable battery, stylus, touch screen.

Other features are open to speculation:
- Removable battery? Possibly with an optional oversized version for extra power.
- Clamshell design?
- 320x480 screen?
- VGA screen? (Doubtful for a successful device: too much power required on top of WiFi)
- More than one SD port? It would be interesting if they put in a second port built into a niche in the outside of the case into which the Palm WiFi card would fit flush, giving you WiFi, but an extra port for file swapping when you need to.
- Cobalt? No. If they had the ability to release a usable Cobalt device, they wouldn't be moving to Linux.

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

Reply to this comment

The PDA is dead, long live the Handheld Computer!

GrahamBM @ 1/21/2005 8:23:07 AM # Q
Whilst candid, I don't think that there's anything particularly prescient about these predictions.

The PDA as was is just evolving into the "Handheld Computer" as is.

If you look at Apple's (and the Microsoft laggard) strategy based around the "Digital Hub" it's pretty clear that the desktop metaphor and people being chained to the desk like 21st Century factory workers (albeit with a latte) is being exchanged for a more mobile lifestyle. So we see products like the iPod and digital camera's which are only of any use when based around a desktop hub (or application server) that lets us manage our stuff. Add to this an increasingly wireless environment whether it's provided by bluetooth, 802.whatever, zigbee, dinosaur telco, etc and we have the perfect conditions for a PDA renaissance.

Of course there is going to be a scuffle in the traditional mobile telco operator vs new breed VoIP operators using 802. solutions but hopefully that's all good for the users who are currently being robbed on GSM & GPRS call & data charges.

There are also so many vertical market applications for which handheld computers are perfect. These include "one per child" use in education where a handheld has many compelling advantages over laptops and tablet PC's, likewise Police, medical, military, professions.

The PDA is dead, long live the Handheld Computer!

The Handheld Learning Forum


RE: The PDA is dead, long live the Handheld Computer!
mikecane @ 1/21/2005 10:52:22 AM # Q

-- I want an OQO. But now I want an OQO running **OS X**!

Mobile Mac!

RE: The PDA is dead, long live the Handheld Computer!
GrahamBM @ 1/21/2005 12:13:34 PM # Q
Now that would be nice!

But you can already run Mac OS X on a Pocket PC

Check out:


and scroll down a bit :)

The Handheld Learning Forum


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