Blogger: Richard Monson-Haefel
It's easy to think of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) as a dead technology. After all, don't most smartphones, and even basic feature phones, include address books, contact lists, calendars, and such? Why buy a PDA which has no phone when you get a phone that has a PDA built right in? That was my thinking until this last week when I had a fascinating conversation with Socket Mobile, a company that has been manufacturing peripherals for PDAs for about a decade.
It turns out there is a market for PDAs that do not offer phone capabilities - especially ones that are hardier than consumer devices but not as bulky as industrials devices. Nurses use these types of devices while working with patients, retailers use them while taking inventory of stock, wait staff in restaurants use them to take orders, researchers use them to enter measurements and field data, and the hospitality industry uses them in their house keeping efforts. That's only a few really obvious examples - there are lots more. And in these types of situations you want the device to be portable and locally networked, but you don't want it be a mobile phone. Can you imagine your waitress answering personal calls while taking your order? That's an extreme example, but the point is there are some jobs where having access to a mobile phone is not necessary or even desired but having a mobile device is. That's the PDA market that still exists today. (read more ...)