When will Apple re-enter the PDA Market?

by Todd Ogasawara

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Computer Business Review printed and then retracted an interview with an Access (which now owns PalmSource) spokesperson saying that Palm OS had reached the end of life. But even if Palm OS remains viable, isn't it time that Apple re-enter the PDA market?


Steve Jobs is on the
cover of the Oct. 24 issue of Time Magazine
with the title heading The man who always seems to know what's next.
I hope what's next is Apple revisiting and re-entering the PDA market Apple created in between Jobs' Apple leadership periods.
Although I tend to use phones and PDAs based on Microsoft Windows Mobile, it was always obvious that a healthy and innovative Palm competing in the market was good for all PDA/phone users.
The Treo 650 (which emerged from Palm's purchase of Handspring a while back) is a great product that is rightfully getting rave reviews from pundits and end users.
Microsoft's approaching Palm to create a Windows Mobile version makes this very obvious.


The Palm software as we know will probably undergo a metamorphasis similar to the one we saw when Apple went from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X and its Mach/BSD based UNIX kernel.
So, Palm won't disappear, just yet IMHO.
And, yet, I think a more innovative dynamic force is needed to revitalize the non-phone PDA space.
The Apple iPod is already half-way to becoming a PDA.
All it really lacks in on-device user-input for contacts, events, etc (let's just forget the Motorola ROKR iTunes Phone for now, please).


Competition is good for consumers in the gadget space.
So, Mr. Jobs, I hope you consider re-entering Apple in the PDA space with the, uh, hmm Apple iPad (iSlate? iNote?) (yeah, no one will hire me as a marketing person, I know).


Would you buy an Apple iPad?


8 Comments

DaleG
2005-10-25 02:27:44
There will have to something more to the PDA
Apple only make products that have a specific purpose, usually a creative purpose, are innovative, and that they believe will be successful.


Apple won't create a PDA just for the sake of creating one, to be like everyone else. A traditional PDA is general purpose and does not have a creative use (in the Apple sense). Apple are extremely unlikely to be successful for it 'cause they'd be entering a dying market that's almost owned by Windows.


I think they're current strategy is the best way to do what you want. That is, create products in similar markets and expand them till they overlap the PDA market. Both the iPod and Mac mini could be seen as products that will grow into non-traditional PDAs, but have innovative and creative purposes as their compelling features. It's just a matter of adding the boring, general purpose PDA functionality to them as secondary features.


Apple could make the PDA irrelevant by following this strategy, avoiding losing money and competing with Microsoft for a dying device.

jbelkin800
2005-10-25 12:01:32
PDA Market DEAD
All you have to do is look at the sales of standalone PDAs in the last 6 years, a fast downward slope. While PDA's will always be around as a function, it will not be around in its limited form for long. It's like a radio without any other function - who buys a radio only player today? VERY FEW PEOPLE.


Apple wil not bother because it's a DEAD MARKET. PDA's had a heyday because it sounded appealing but after a few months, most people realized they would have to step hours getting in all that data - otherwise it was pointless or a repeat of the wrutten calendar or the computer.


A PDA feature in the phone - great - being able to access info wirelessly from a synced file or from the computer, all great but the future is a PDA feature on a phone. The PDA as a standalone is DEAD to the general public but like a tablet PC, it has a limited function within certain industries but as a consumer or general interest standalone product - DEAD.

jbellew
2005-10-26 12:13:43
iPod is a PDA
The only feature not available to the iPod is a way to enter data in it without a computer. The iPod is basically a PDA. It syncs your calendars, contact list, even short notes (really short about 4K worth). Personally, I've never know anyone that really needed to edit files, save note files, on a PDA. Real world that's probably different but really what was a PDA originally designed to be - an organizer. Technically, the iPod can already do it all it needs is a louder external speaker to give alert tones for events on a calendar and someway to enter data for calendars, contact lists, and even short notes. And additionally To-Do lists.
toddogas
2005-10-27 09:12:48
iPod is a PDA
I disagree completely. As I said, the iPod is halfway there with some info retrieval (calendar, notes, etc.). However, people who buy PDAs and Smartphones enter data into them during the day on the run, not just when they are at a notebook or desktop.
toddogas
2005-10-27 09:20:50
PDA Market DEAD
Yeah, but how do you really feel? :-)


As to who buys a radio? Anyone who lives in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc.


And, who buys a standalone music player when you can buy combo MP3/Radio players? Uh, apparently the droves of people who bought iPods.


Disconnected PDA sales are definitely on a downward slope. But, that is because the feature sets of mid-to-high-end Smartphones and hybrid devices like the Palm Treo have come to match them and then add the phone communications function. The PDA is not dead, it is (as you mentioned) just being added to phones or becoming phones themselves (as with the Treo). That being the point, I'd still like to see Apple come out with a strong entrant to the Smartphone/PDA market (not counting the ROKR here :-)

p.k.
2005-10-27 12:07:43
Looking...
I'm in the market looking for a nice PDA phone. My current Cell Phone sucks. It does have USB and syncs with my Mac, but it's not very useful past that.


What I'm looking for is a way to read/write email, watch video pod casts, schedule calendar events, store contacts, and make phone calls.


What I don't want is MS Windows on my PDA.

toddogas
2005-10-27 20:48:38
Looking...
If Windows Mobile devices are not your cup of tea, take a look at the Palm OS based Treo 650.
maffy
2005-12-15 13:42:13
PDA Market DEAD
But I don't want to spend 400 bucks for a phone that is a phone/pda. All I want is a way to track when I have dinner/theater/symphony reservations, and contact information for snail mail addresses which I generally only need at Christmas time. I had a handspring, which I killed trying to update it's data onto my Mac OSX machine. Not sure what went wrong, but something is terribly wrong.


Anyway, I'll probably go to the 99 buck Palm OS PDA because there's nothing else (short of micrograft) but would HAPPILY buy an ipod if it had more PDA functionality. I don't care about mp3 players, except for boring periods on a treadmill.


Maffy