FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Next-Generation PDAs

Observers seem to agree that traditional PDAs are on the decline, based on slumping sales. Shipments fell from 10 million units in 2003 to just over 8 million in 2004. However, sales of devices that combine PDAs with phone and e-mail capabilities are soaring. Most notably, shipments of Research In Motion's Blackberry jumped 260% from 2003 to 2004, and sales jumped 230%.

Another factor cutting into PDA sales is users' growing reliance on laptops for basic functions they used to reserve for PDAs. Other developers continue to experiment with wearable and highly portable computers. A company called Handkey has developed a device called the Twiddler, which is a keyboard and mouse that can be held in one hand.

Also, the Context Computing Group at Georgia Tech is testing speech-recognition devices that would essentially make PDAs speech aware.

Convergence, wireless networking, usability testing and increased CPU power are helping to redefine the way we think about mobile computing. Many -- myself included -- still find value in the simple PDA that serves as a calendar, address book and to-do list. However, our next device may well be magnitudes more powerful.

Sources: eMarketer, MIT Tech Review