What is The Purpose of PDAs?

It looks like business users aren’t taking advantage of the power of PDAs in a connected or online mode because they are too hard to use.

At least that’s one of
the conclusions of a new report released today by Strategy Analytics, which
surveyed business users of PDAs and cell phones.

“What we found is that business users aren’t hollering for smaller sizes or
even more battery life; they’ve mostly accepted those limitations,” Cliff
Raskind, director of Strategy Analytic’s wireless enterprise strategies
service told internetnews.com. “What they’re screaming for is better
usability.”

Which is not to say PDAs like the HP iPaq and Palm handhelds aren’t being
used. Raskind said the devices are most popular among management and sales
people.

“But there are a lot of PIM freaks who use them as a
kind of address book on steroids, but they are not using the functions in an
[online] mode.”

Raskind blames developers and device manufacturers for a failure to improve
usability, but says they have a huge opportunity to reach more business
customers with better products.

“There is a tailor-made segment of business
users with a willingness to pay for services to make greater use of these
devices.”

Raskind pointed to Apple’s iPod as a great example of a device that doesn’t try to
cram too much functionality but does what it does — play and navigate music
selections — very well.

With a myriad of different business applications,
Raskind says PDAs have to be less all things to all people, and targeted
more at specific market segments.

For example, he said content creators, people who need to do a lot of
writing on a PDA, place more value on a bigger screen and keyboard, similar to that of the Nokia 9300.

But the stylus interface for accessing dropdown menus is more relevant to professionals using a CRM or sales force automation application where it’s more about retrieving information.

Strategy Analytics surveyed 600 business users of cellular devices of which
about 25 percent were PDA users.

The research firm says PDA users report strong interest in a basket of
value-added services.

“So far, however, a combination of device-centric and
network-resident barriers have conspired to suppress attachment rates beyond
the initial corner-office inbox junkies,” said David Kerr, vice president of
the company’s Global Wireless Practice, in a statement.

“While improved data economics coupled with expanding device portfolios from
Microsoft Mobile partners, Symbian camp evangelists and aspiring Asian
vendors all augur well for the future,” he added, “no dominant paradigm has yet emerged to transition these PDA users into true converged device solutions
customers.”

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