Converged Devices Low Priority for Consumers

By Sean Kerner

A device combining a cell phone with a digital assistant and other portable devices is not a high priority for consumers, according to a new report from Jupiter Research.

The report says 53 percent of consumers polled carry more than one portable device and they are content to continue to do so.

Jupiter Research, which is owned by the same parent company as, concludes in the report that “no device that attempts to integrate three or more primary functions will be dominant in the marketplace. Primary intended use, and the value proposition of secondary uses in each price category, will drive handheld adoption.”

According to the report, the three most popular portable devices are cell phones (67 percent), calculators (16 percent) and personal digital assistants (8 percent).

“When manufacturers converge products, the end result is usually increased capabilities in the areas where the devices overlap, but decreased suitability for the primary functions of each device. The sum is often less than the individual parts,” the report states.

Jupiter Research Lead Analyst Melissa Stock told, “The most surprising result that we found was that consumers don’t really want everything bundled into their PDA. I think that is because they are willing to carry more than one device.”

Jupiter concludes from the study that the PDA marketplace has increasingly split into three areas of functionality: (1.) basic PDA functionality; (2.) PDA functionality with media centricity; and (3.) basic PDA functionality together with media centricity and wireless features.

The report finds that consumers consider voice communication as the number one priority in a portable device. Other items, such as MP3 playback, digital camera functionality and e-mail capabilities, just aren’t as important.

“Consumers are willing to carry more than two devices and because of that they are looking for the optimal functionality in whatever capabilities are actually built into the devices,” said Stock. “Voice is much more important. With e-mail consumers are willing to give that up and just check it at their office or home.”

Personal information management (PIM) is the most important functionality in portable devices after voice and calculator capabilities, according to the study. It also concludes that PDA’s that do not have excellent PIM functionality will not be well received in the marketplace, leading Jupiter to believe the Palm operating system will remain the industry leader because of its perceived best of breed PIM functionality.

Other key conclusions from the report include the assertion that devices should not integrate more than three primary functions and that synchronization is a key concern among consumers.

“Consumers must be able to sync data in a consistent manner throughout all devices in order to maintain an effective system of sharing information across the multiple devices that are used portably, in the workplace, and in the home,” the report states.

The report suggests PDA vendors focus on four key attributes to ensure success: form factor, synchronization, personal information management, and battery life. Form factor must remain small and batteries must be strong enough to support the full functionality of devices.

The sweet spot, according to the report, is the “area where voice, PIM, or a combination of the two is available.”

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