Opinion: Is the PDA Industry Losing Its Design Enthusiasm?
Guest Editor, Kent from PocketFactory, brings up an interesting opinion piece about buying a new PDA in today's market. Have PDA's as we know them lost that enthusiasm that created such aesthetic beauties as the Palm V? Read on for more.
Looking at today's offerings from PalmOne, it's not hard to see why the PDA industry has lost much of the enthusiasm that marked its early days. Palm PDAs have lost the classic look and feel that set them apart from other competing products on the market, particularly the Palm V form factor.
Take the Tungsten T5 for example. Though a decent looking product compared to other PDAs sitting on store shelves, it's just another nameless face in the crowd. The Tungsten line as a whole lacks the elegance that drove so many consumers and business professionals to covet the original Palm V, which wasn’t just a PDA..it was a status symbol.
Buying a PDA today is as boring as buying a pair of socks. The value proposition of mobile devices has certainly increased exponentially with introduction of new features, and we get far more bang for our buck now than ever before. But aesthetics have suffered dramatically as the PDA market has become commoditized. I haven't seen a PDA in recent years that really looked fashionable. Not since Sony’s departure anyway. We all had a good laugh at the Claudia Schiffer Palm V model, but I'd gladly take a Palm V that packed the same features of today's models into a similar form factor and slick looking design.
The Zire line is another example of lackluster design. Popular consumer PDAs of past generations like the Handspring Visor Deluxe sported fun designs and color options that allowed the consumer to personalize their PDA. When Handspring first introduced the Visor, people were buying these things like candy. Visor owners proudly flaunted their color choice to friends and fellow Visor enthusiasts. As trivial as color and style may be to some, it offered a great experience to consumers.
In its glory days, PDAs were much more than a piece of technology, they were a wearable fashion accessory; sleek, stylish, and infinitely cool. There is no better example of this same philosophy than the iPod. Has that product become so successful simply because it plays music? Of course not, its classic design has made it an icon….with an almost cult-like following that Palm devices once had. Those days are long gone for the PDA it seems.
PalmOne needs another homerun design that breaks molds and sets off a new trend in hardware design. Something that screams...cool! So far all we've seen are a bunch of dud designs that have the sex appeal of wet clay. Obviously just slapping an existing PDA into a more elegant design isn't necessarily going to propel PDAs back to growth. But it may reinvigorate a market in desperate need of excitement and relevance. The PDA market needs an iPod!
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