PalmSource president David Nagel is calling for more aggressive handheld designs that actually address user needs rather than bundling in every feature under the sun. Ideally, Nagel would like to see PDA/cell phone devices with always-on data capabilities offered for around $200, which is well under the $500 price tag those devices carry today. Of course, those $500 handhelds also pack a wide array of extra features that just don't resonate, at least with me. Do people really get much out of PDA video playback on those tiny screens?
Maybe I'm losing touch with the hip, multimedia-crazed masses that handheld manufacturers seem to be targeting with their latest PDAs, but I just don't get it. Feature-driven handhelds always seem to end up bigger, heavier, and more power-hungry than their predecessors; isn't portability cool anymore?
Personally, I'd like to see someone come out with a PDA that puts size, weight, battery life, and wireless connectivity above whiz-bang features like multimedia playback, integrated cameras, and color screens. Convergence is great, but many of today's devices seem more content to offer mediocre implementations of as many features as possible rather than concentrating on solid implementations of a few less sexy, but perhaps more useful features.
Given that the last wave of feature-packed PDAs didn't do much to help the slumping PDA market, maybe it's time for manufacturers to switch gears and radically rethink their handheld platforms.
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