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Why Have PDAs Failed In The iPod Era?

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the my-palm-she-is-dead dept.

Handhelds 623

mikejz84 writes "As the owner of a PocketPC PDA I am a very happy camper, with wifi internet access, Skype Voip, video playback, and of course the ubiquitous mp3 playback. In an era were everyone seems to talk about the Video iPod, and the next generation of mobile devices, it leaves me wondering - I already have all those abilities in a PDA that costs about as much as an iPod. My question for Slashdot: Given that modern PDAs have almost all the functionality of these separate devices, how has Palm and Microsoft/PocketPC developers failed in making PDAs a force in this new era of portable media devices? It is the poor marketing, bad media apps, public perception, or do people simply not want an all-in-one for mobile media?"

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One word... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848841)


Re:One word... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848963)

Because no PDA has been hyped by millions of ass-to-mouth-Apple-zealot-bloggers and butt-ugly nigger-fucking US-webwhores.

Ruby on Rails is for pussies and US-bois; real men use Assembler Server Pages.

I think you nailed it. (5, Insightful)

kensai (139597) | about 9 years ago | (#13848843)

the poor marketing ... BINGO.
bad media apps ... BINGO.
public perception ... BINGO.
do people simply not want an all-in-one for mobile media ... BINGO.

Re:I think you nailed it. (4, Insightful)

jtwJGuevara (749094) | about 9 years ago | (#13848892)

do people simply not want an all-in-one for mobile media ... BINGO.

This might comparing be apples to oranges, but if this were true, then why does virtually everyone cell phone on the market come with so much more functionality than what a phone should ever be used for: pictures, video games, music, text messaging, etc. etc.

Re:I think you nailed it. (5, Insightful)

CountBrass (590228) | about 9 years ago | (#13848987)

Because mobile phone makers need to you to keep buying new phones otherwise they go bust.

My phone is a pda, has games, a camera, can browse the web. None of which I want, need nor use.

In contrast it often hangs (Windows Mobile so no surprise) and I have to take the battery out. When trying to answer calls it sometimes declares there was an error answering the call!?! And sometimes it simply doesnt ring/vibrate when someone calls me.

Why can't I buy *just a phone*? The original Motorola V (not the current bloated monster) and the Nokia 2110 were pretty much the perfect mobile phones: it's all been downhill since then.

Re:I think you nailed it. (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 years ago | (#13849045)

I think most phones have PDAs, they all suck. Few of them sync to your computer, and typing stuff in on the number pad is rediculous. The camera functions are equally bad. The only way to get the pictures off sometimes is to email them to yourself, and then they charge you for the bandwidth.

Re:I think you nailed it. (4, Interesting)

ciroknight (601098) | about 9 years ago | (#13849011)

Because they're mainly features to sell the device.

Picture messaging is gimmicky, but some people actually find it useful. And since it's still a telephony/communications tool, it makes sense to embed it into a cellphone. Video games, never understood it myself, but some people enjoy playing the games on the diminutive screen, in waiting rooms, elevators, etc. Text messaging; again, it's very inline with what a cellphone's intended purpose is to be - to help people communicate while on the move. Instead of having to communicate verbally, you can write the message and send it, thus avoiding distburbing classes, and talking about subjects you otherwise wouldn't be able to verbally.

I think the matra should be "The Spirit of the Device". What is the devices intended purpose? How can we make that purpose better, how can we expand upon the product with similar purposes to broaden its use for people who otherwise wouldn't buy our product? (on that note; I've seen deaf people use cellphones. Text Messaging is a definite boon). In the case of a PDA, the spirit just isn't there; a PDA is a catchall device. In a lot of minds, "a solution looking for a problem". If you can find a use for it, you'd buy it, but many simply can't find a use for it. Hell, I recieved a PDA as a re-gift from a friend; "I can't figure out how to use and even if I did I doubt I'd be able to find a use for it".

Re:I think you nailed it. (5, Insightful)

lewp (95638) | about 9 years ago | (#13849012)

Because we do want those features, we just want them executed properly. In consumer electronics, as in everywhere else, the first few iterations of any new product are almost universally shit.

I'd drop my RAZR's camera in a second if it'd mean a smaller and lighter phone, but only because the camera on it sucks so badly I end up carrying around my little Canon S505 most everywhere. When they put 3+MP cameras with decent AF in phones, I won't do that anymore, and we'll be one step closer to convergence.

Likewise, when they give me a 20+gig PDA with the size and style of an iPod, with a large screen, the horsepower to play movies, and that lasts 8+ hours on a single charge, I'll be all over it.

Re:I think you nailed it. (3, Interesting)

Weedlekin (836313) | about 9 years ago | (#13849034)

1) Because people are going to carry a cell phone anyway, and it's pretty hard to find one that doesn't come with a thousand superfluous extras. Having them there doesn't mean people use them, all, though, whereas you wouldn't buy a PDA unless you did have a use for most of what it does.

2) Phone companies pay a large proportion of the actual device cost as a way of attracting customers. IMO most popular phones would have a lot less in the way of in-built extras if customers had to pay the full retail cost, and the one with cameras and other stuff cost $600 versus a basic model for $80.

Re:I think you nailed it. (4, Insightful)

Henk Poley (308046) | about 9 years ago | (#13849062)

Mobilephones are targeted at a minority group with a strong voice. This group loves "cool"; cool means: change/difference, which implies featuritis.

It is that simple ;-)

Re:I think you nailed it. (2, Informative)

lewp (95638) | about 9 years ago | (#13848926)

Add to this that they're pretty much universally ugly (note that the iPod sells millions while Rios rot on the shelves), and that I have yet to see one with decent capacity (outside of carrying around a pocket full of CF cards).

Dell has deals on their Axims that put them down into the same price range as the iPods, and the WIFI and GPS features (on top of intrinsic hackability of the systems themselves) appeal to me greatly. I still don't own one, though, and I have 3 iPods (regular, mini, nano).

Re:I think you nailed it. (5, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | about 9 years ago | (#13848953)

Device Flexibility: bingo.

PDAs might be cool toys, they do a lot that a PC can do, and you can carry it in your pocket. Pretty cool eh? But when it comes down to it, what does the device actually do? Hard to define; it can do calendars, it can do media playback, it can do telephony, it can do internet-related tasks. But on the overall, it's a very obscure device.

With the iPod, it's pretty clear what it does. It plays music. Now, it does do other things; it can watch movies, it can view pictures, it can broadcast music on an FM frequency, it can offload pictures from your digital camera, it can record class notes, it can keep your address book, notes, song lyrics. But these things are bonuses; the iPod's intention is to be the best damned music player on the market, and it nails that motive.

Now, don't think I hate PDAs; I love palm, I own a Treo 600 and a Palm m130 personally, but I almost never use them anymore. I have found that I'm distracted by a device that does too much, and isn't particularly good at anything that it's supposed to do. When I'm writing notes, I find a pencil and a piece of paper faster. When I'm trying to make a call, the Treo is ackward to hold and often lacks reception compared to my Nokia. And when I'm trying to browse forums, I find the screen's resolution prohibitive and just go and find a dumb terminal somewhere.

Give the PDA something to do, and you'll see people who need it to do that purpose, buy it. Instead of bundling everything and the kitchen sink, give it a very simple task, and expand upon the device in a way that's non-destructive to the device's original intent.

Re:I think you nailed it. (1)

22RealMcCoy (864375) | about 9 years ago | (#13849001)

The 22surfboard--An All-in-One Open-Source Media Server Running LAMP Applications Where is it? [] Surf's up and the LAMP developer community is ready to rock out--they just need a surfboard to surf Moore's Law, Metcalfe's Law, and Constitutional Law on home. As soon as somebody manufactures handhelds and media-servers that can readily run common Linux and LAMP (Linux/Apache/MYSQL/PHP) applications like postnuke and phpnuke, the floodgates of innovation will open. The technology is there. Move over iPodTM, TiVoTM, iPaqTM, and MicrosoftTM. Open-source CMS and DRM will power tomorrow's content marketplaces, handhelds, computers, and media-servers, as artist-hackers create the open-source hardware, software, and standards for all-in-one media devices, record labels, media marketplaces, and modeling agencies. In fact, if your company is building a 22surfboard or some other open-source-based device, send it along and perhaps we can hack a free marketing campaign for it. Any company who's building open-source devices is doing us all a big favor, so we'd be glad to help out!

Re:I think you nailed it. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 years ago | (#13849021)

I think the poor marketing has it all summed up. The Palm Lifedrive looks like it could be a real iPod killer. It can play music, video, view images, has wifi, bluetooth, 4 Gigs of space, which can't hold your entire collection, but easily holds enough data to last you for a good vacation, as well as all the nice PDA functions. Its amazing how useful something like this could be, and how much better it would be to have a device like this than an iPod. Yet they don't market it, don't let people know how truly good it would be, and frankly when people think of music players, the last thing they will think of is a PDA.

Re:I think you nailed it. (1)

cranktheguy (731726) | about 9 years ago | (#13849050)

the fact that an ipod holds 40 gigs while pda's don't even come close...

Simple (1, Troll)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 9 years ago | (#13848848)

Because I don't need or care for a PDA.

Exactly (4, Insightful)

sterno (16320) | about 9 years ago | (#13848988)

The fact of the matter is that there are very few people who really need PDA's. If they can get a phone that has PDA features without paying a lot more, they'll take it. But as a standalone device, the PDA is the jack of all trades master of none.

If you take a straight up pocket PC, you can:

-Make phone calls
-Listen to music
-Schedule appointments
-Send e-mail
-Watch movies

But how many of those tasks is it really exceptional at? It's great for keeping track of a calendar and corporations are the biggest buyer of PDA's for that reason. They set up a centralized meeting system and then hand out PDA's to everybody.

It's not ideal for phone calls. I have a treo which is about as good of a compromise as you can get it and it's still a bit bulky for the average person. It'll fit in a pocket but it bulges quite a bit. You can listen to music but then you have storage space issues and the interfaces aren't nearly as good as what's on an ipod. You can send a small e-mail with ease but you need a laptop for real productivity. Movies... well, if you like watching movies on a 2 inch screen, more power to you and your optometrist.

The niche that a PDA is trying to fill is deceptively difficult. Basically give people a computer that they can carry in their pocket all the time. There's practical limitations to how small you can make the display and keyboard before it becomes unusuable. The treo is the best compromise I've seen and by most phone standards it's huge.

dont need (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848850)

average people don't need all that stuff, plus they're not cool

Re:dont need (2, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | about 9 years ago | (#13848972)

yup, don't need all that stuff and it just makes it harder to figure out how to use it. ie, too complicated. Just look at the iPod. There have been other MP3 mplayers for years before the iPod. IMO, the reason the iPod took off was because Apple made getting music and getting it onto the iPod REALLY easy. The UI on the iPod is pretty simple too and I think the simplicity is what makes it sell to the broader market.

Now if someone were to build a Linux image for your iPaq that strips it down to a simple music and video player, AND builds a website or desktop app( JAVA maybe ) to easily load the files.... Then again, it won't look like an iPod so it ain't got THAT going for it.


Storage capacity (5, Insightful)

MadDog Bob-2 (139526) | about 9 years ago | (#13848852)

Unless you sprung for extra storage, the space on your PDA is measured in tens of megabytes. On an iPod, it's measured in tens of gigabytes.

Re:Storage capacity (1)

mikejz84 (771717) | about 9 years ago | (#13848891)

Flash memory is cheap, and most digital camera owners already have a few GB of the stuff.

Re:Storage capacity (1)

dane23 (135106) | about 9 years ago | (#13848913)

Not on one disk though.

Re:Storage capacity (1)

Safe Sex Goddess (910415) | about 9 years ago | (#13849013)

I'm in agreement with this statement. I have both a pocketPC and a 40GB Ipod. I don't use the PocketPC that much, one because it's one of those HP IPAQ 5400's and is huge, and the other is because it doesn't hold much.

Re:Storage capacity (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 years ago | (#13849044)

It's all about interface. You can not create something the size of a deck of cards that has the efficiency, functionality and comfort of a standard keyboard (of, at least, say the size of a powerbook keyboard). Nobody wants to hunt and peck on a frigging blackberry with the tips of their fingers on little pegs the size of BBs. Not to mention, you then have to add the cost of extra software, wireless net access, batteries, etc.

People ant extremely portable computing, but at a certain point, just being small doesn't cut it, because you've edged out the functionality you wanted. When small and functional and cheap all merge, people will use them. Rather than whining about "why don't people want what we're giving them?" - they should perhaps start considering giving people what they want.

40 Gb Hdd? (4, Insightful)

CDMA_Demo (841347) | about 9 years ago | (#13848853)

It is the poor marketing, bad media apps, public perception, or do people simply not want an all-in-one for mobile media?

iPod is just a glorified HDD which makes it important. Your PDA is a teeny weeny computer which makes it not-so-important. Plus,what is the biggest HDD you can put in it? Apple understands the low-profile-market better

Re:40 Gb Hdd? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849028)

the 'glorified hdd' storage capacity doesn't make the ipod important - its the cool factor of the music combined with the cool factor of the design & marketing (apple image + good marketing campaign + other people using). sure music needs storage space, but pointing out the relative computer functionality is kind of missing the point - people don't think hard drives are 'important' in the way that you're describing.

linucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848854)

yeah, but does your PocketPC run Linux?

simplicity and capacity (5, Insightful)

fredistheking (464407) | about 9 years ago | (#13848855)

Most people just want to listen to music. Also show me a PDA with a 60GB drive.

Re:simplicity and capacity (1)

colganc (581174) | about 9 years ago | (#13848925)

Show me statistics saying 99% of the users of an iPod fill it up anywhere near that.

Re:simplicity and capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848986)

Did he say that everyone uses all of the 60GB? Obviously, lots of people want the 60GB iPods since they sell relatively well compared to the cheaper models with less storage. Also, lots of people are going to buy the 60GB regardless if they will use it all right away because they may use that space sometime in the future.

Clue 1 (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 years ago | (#13848859)

Clue #1: Cellphones have become PDAs.

Indeed (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | about 9 years ago | (#13848933)

You have more pocketable PPCs with phone functionality which are more useful (they can download email on the move). Plus you have smartphones which aren't much bigger and sometimes the same size as ordinary phones.

Re:Clue 1 (4, Insightful)

Jozer99 (693146) | about 9 years ago | (#13848935)

Clue #1 Cellphones have become PDAs (3 day battery life) Clue #2 iPods have become PDAs (18 hour battery life) Clue #3 Laptops have become PDAs (my 3lb Centrino) (4 hour battery life) Clue #4 PDAs have become desktop computers (2-3 hour battery life)

Its the interface (5, Insightful)

john_chr (700513) | about 9 years ago | (#13848860)

My take on why PDA's haven't been as succesful as the "ipod" - its the interface. Apple got that bit right and it became a hit.

Pancake Ninjas Rule! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848863)

because pancake ninjas don't wear pants, they wear pajamas. Fear us!

All-in-one! (1)

Ossifer (703813) | about 9 years ago | (#13848868)

Why do people not want a PDA in the ipod era?

Because music is more enjoyable than calendars and phonebooks...

Seriously, though, why should I have all these little devices which pretty much look the same (small rectangle, litle screen, buttons) but do separate things? For example, my cell phone has a keypad and an infrared port--why do I need a separate remote control for my TV (and VCR, DVD, stereo, etc...)???

In terms of mobility, how many pockets do I wish to designate for technology? I still need to store my keys, wallet, and, uh, well, at least for now I do...

Re:All-in-one! (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 9 years ago | (#13848947)

Seriously, though, why should I have all these little devices which pretty much look the same? Uh, cause if you listen to music on your all-in-one all day, you won't have any battery left to receive phone calls by the end of the day? How about 'cause dropping a $99 device on the ground and breaking it is slightly less painful then dropping a $499 device?

What I want is a cell phone that is really good at being a cell phone, and a MP3 player that is really good at being an MP3 player! I don't even use the camera or PDA features built into my cell phone, 'cause it make a crappy PDA and even worse camera. The idea about using your PDA as a programable IR oluetooth remote control is a good one, however.

Re:All-in-one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849049)

I think you should join the police task force. They wear a belt like Batman with all those gadgets. The purpose of the all-in-one pda is to reduce the amount of hardware that you need to carry to do the things that you want. Unfortunately, they don't have the marketing power that Apple has. I bet if/when Apple does make a pda, people would be saying, "Apple revolutionizes the computer industry by creating the iPDA".

straight up storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848872)

storage constraints for one thing. my sx66 is a little more expensive than the iPod video, but has essentially no native storage. i shudder to think how much it would cost to upgrade my PDA's storage capacity to equal even that of a iPod nano.

the short and simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848874)

iPods are sexy. PDAs are nerdy.

simplicity (1)

sbraab (100929) | about 9 years ago | (#13848879)

It is all about easy of use. Look at why people pay so much more for the iPod. iPods are intuitive. People don't want to click on start bars and launch applications and navigate to files. Look at the black berry. it is the same thing easy to access e-mail and that is all that people use it for. Even for many technically savvy people the simplicity of the iPod wins out over many of the other devices.

The Killer Gadget? Convergence Is the Key (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848880)

Some of these questions are answered here [] , in an editorial posted last night.

Bad UI (1)

basketcase (114777) | about 9 years ago | (#13848881)

I have a 40GB iPod and a Sony NX70V Clie PDA. The iPod is a much better mp3 player than the Clie ever could be because the interface was designed for it. I have never even bothered to attempt to play an mp3 file on my Clie.

Actually, I started to once but then read that it only plays mp3 files if they are stored on a special memory stick that has DRM built into it and costs 2x more.

I am perfectly happy ignoring the fact that the headphone jack on my PDA even exists.

I only want 1 device in my pocket (2, Interesting)

GWBasic (900357) | about 9 years ago | (#13848882)

I tried a PDA about three years ago, but I found that it was difficult to carry it and my phone in my pocket. As a result, when my PDA died, I bought a phone that contained my desired PDA functionality. Later, when I needed a portable music player, I bought a Nomad, which doesn't stay in my pocket all day. Someday when WiMax is widespread, I hope to replace both devices with a single handheld computer that can access Rhapsody and Skype.

re: Why Have PDAs Failed In The iPod Era? (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about 9 years ago | (#13848888)

Maybe because there aren't any $350.00 PDAs with 30 gig hds?

Re: Why Have PDAs Failed In The iPod Era? (1)

Rac3r5 (804639) | about 9 years ago | (#13848998)

as simple as it sounds, Parent has hit the nail on the head.

When I was buying a PDA, I wanted to have a 30 Gig HD... I couldn't find one (the Palm HD edition PDA wasn't out yet).

I ended up purchasing a PDA and then an MP3 Player (not an iPOD, a Neuros if ur interested).

Another thing is simplicity and ease of use. The iPOD does what it was meant to do and does it with relative ease.

The next thing is form factor,size, look and feel.

I have a Dell Axim x50, its looks pretty and isn't as bulky as the other PDA's that are out, but it can't compare to the form factor of an iPOD.

It's the interface (1)

dada21 (163177) | about 9 years ago | (#13848894)

I love my T-mobile HP Pocket PC Phone, the h6315.

GSM Phone, 4K GPRS, WiFi, Bluetooth. RSS grabber, 2 browsers, FTP, VNC client, Excel, Word, AIM, Shoutcast (32kbps & under), MP3&Video (6 hours of TV on my SD card), etc.

Battery life sucks but I have a micro charger. Interface is complex but I do 100% of my /. posts while pumping MP3's and keeping my work orders active.

My broad has an iPod mini. Simple. My luddite dad has one. My little sis has one.

PDAs do too much, for too short a charge life, and it takes too long to get it right!

Most MP3 players fail as the interface is too geeky.

I own a pda (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 9 years ago | (#13848895)

I use a pda daily - I would never buy an Ipod.

I also have a camera - not a camera phone.

I need storage for the camera, that doubles for storage for the pda.

If people saw past the advertising - they'd realize they were getting ripped off for a shaped piece of plastic.

So - I'll say it's more because folks are stupid, and buy into advertising hype over functionality.

Re:I own an iPod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849035)

I own an iPod. I don't keep a lifestyle which requires me to carry a device to help me remember stuff.
I don't sign contracts which make me on call after I leave work.

If people saw past the advertising, they would realise they were not free. These PDA devices are tools of enslavement.

You keep your chains and PDAs, I'll keep my iPod, its a great environment isolation device.

Re:I own a pda (1)

CapnRob (137862) | about 9 years ago | (#13849042)

Ripped off?

Erm. I just checked on a price for one. You can get a 60gig hard drive that's physically larger than an iPod, that doesn't have a battery, that doesn't have a screen, and doesn't have any features beyond "I can plug it into a computer and put data on it." ... for $320. Or, you can spend $80 more and get video playback, photo playback, music playback, some very basic PDA functionality, AND "I can plug it into a computer and put data on it." Eighty bucks, for a pretty reasonable set of features, I'd say.

How is this a ripoff?

It may not be something you, personally, need, Sparky, but it's certainly not a ripoff in and of itself. Let's lose the "I'm so much better than you because I haven't fallen for Apple's nefarious plans." attitude. It's a device. For what it is, based on current prices in the marketplace, it's a reasonably priced device.

Now, if they advertised it as a PDA replacement, and claimed that it would do everything a PDA does ... then, yes, it might be a ripoff. But they don't. They say it's a music player that now also plays some video.

No, in this case, it certainly looks you're so full of your own innate superiority that you can't actually be bothered to go look at prices, and to see that people might choose to buy something that has different features that you, yourself, might want.

I have an iPod. Guess what I use it for? I play music on it. I have a PDA. Guess what? It's in a drawer somewhere because I didn't use it enough to make the trouble of using it worthwhile. That is to say, I have information as to the advantages and disadvantages of both devices in my particular situation, data concerning my own preferences for consumer electronics, and ... oddly enough ... I made a decision as to which device best fit my needs based on that information.

Guess which one of the two devices ... the one I use for its intended purpose, and the one that's gathering dust in a drawer ... I feel is a ripoff?

And guess who, between us, is stupid.

The alternatives? (1)

obli (650741) | about 9 years ago | (#13848896)

Let's compare it to the products it's supposed to replace, here's why I'm not using a PDA:

The calendar - I don't want to power up my PDA, flip through tiny menus with a stylus, it should be easy to access and I don't want to go several hundred dollars back if I lose it. On the other hand there's the synchronization, if I only got it to sync with my iPod and Nokia, that is.

mp3 player - No PDA holds 20 GB of music, nor are they pretty to look at or light enough to hang around your neck when you decide to hit the running track.

Cell phone - Too big.

Portable browser - fine, but the cell phones are getting closer, my latest cell phone isn't even restricted to WAP sites, unlike my last one...

easy answer (1)

CDPatten (907182) | about 9 years ago | (#13848897)

They are too big to be an mp3 player (ask any athlete), and generally don't come with enough storage for allot of mp3s.

On the flip side, the lack of built in keyboard makes it tough to be an effective organizer for the masses, and lets face it, the web browsers suck for surfing the web.

They have failed because they aren't good enough yet. The PDA phones are getting there, mobile 5 is pretty good, rim does a good job too. But PDA and mp3 players really shouldn't be compared, they are worlds apart.

Why you ask (1)

netkid91 (915818) | about 9 years ago | (#13848903)

I like PDA's, don't have one but I like them. Big problem is they have all this funcionality, but don't have decent storage for it. Also I'd rather have a PDA not locked to a OS, or had a F/OSS OS like linux on it so I can screw around with it if I wanted too, the whole it runs with what we put on it BS is for the birds. Not meant to provoke flamewars, just IMHO

Re:Why you ask (1)

vrtladept (674792) | about 9 years ago | (#13848979)

Zarus solves at least your OS problem. (Not the storage)

I didn't want convergence... (2, Interesting)

ajservo (708572) | about 9 years ago | (#13848909)

I've never sought out all for one convergence.

There's a variety of reasons for this.

1. I don't work in a traditional office setting with meetings and appointments.

2. There's compromises that are made on the portability and "all in one" nature of these devices. The camera feature on an older PDA wouldn't have met my needs for what I had at the time. Do I want to limit myself to 512MB of space for everything? These are questions I evaluated before I made my purchases. The cell phone served it's purpose, the ipod does it's own. I can't see much need in crossover for what I use the two for.

PDAs are lame, expensive, and passe (1)

saskboy (600063) | about 9 years ago | (#13848912)

There are cell phones and watches [Datalink by Timex and MSoft] that are more useful as personal data storage devices, than most PDAs.

My personal system is to put highly dynamic or temporary data onto tiny scraps of paper that go into a special pocket in my pants, and my long term numbers and names are stored in my nifty Datalink wrist watch. I don't have a cell, but if I did, I could take notes with that. IF I had an MP3 player, I'd have an FM radio for new data, and MP3s to listen to. If it could be used to store other data files from a USB port, that would be even better.

I am waiting for the first James Bond cell phone wrist watch, with a camera, data input/retrieval, wireless web surfing, and of course a stopwatch. I think battery technology is all that is holding this device away from the assembly line.

Re:PDAs are lame, expensive, and passe (1)

Glowing Fish (155236) | about 9 years ago | (#13848983)

The ipod had a killer app. The ipod WAS a killer app.
PDAs were gadgets searching for a purpose. The main purpose they found was making yuppies feel like they were leading busy, important lives. Gadgets can't survive forever just on the value of being an ego boost.
And that is why, as you say, PDAs are passe.

Re:PDAs are lame, expensive, and passe (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 9 years ago | (#13849043)

pdas are much more useful than cellphones.

i have an o2 xda 2 and this device is really nice. full size win ce pda with cell phone functions. ever tried to for example reading books on a cell phone? no fun. reading books on a pda is much better. plus, with a gps receiver you can use it as a navigation system. with headphones as an mp3 player, can watch videos on it, modify pictures i have taken with my digicam, play games when i am bored and write software for it.

won't ever go back to a standard cellphone.

Space and pure slickness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848914)

iPods have exponentially more space and are just more accessible to the general populace, for sexiness factor and the iTunes interface.

How about storage space? (2, Insightful)

sterno (16320) | about 9 years ago | (#13848918)

Name me one PDA that has 30GB of space. Or 10... or 5 even?

I've got a treo. It's a nice phone/organizer and it'd suck donkeys for playing mp3's. Why? Because it has no storage space.

I think, quite honestly, it comes down to a decision about the intention of the devices. PDA's are marketed to business people. So part of that marketing choice involves trimming out features that would make them well suited to being mp3 players. Why does a business traveller need 10GB of space? It'd be nice, but in the grand scheme, they don't need it and they wouldn't be able to convince their employers to shell out for it.

The other thing to keep in mind is the costs involved. An IPod is basically a disk drive with a very minimal interface to manage the music. Simple input and simple output using relatively low cost parts. If you tried to build a PDA with similar capacity it'd get a lot more expensive quickly and then who would buy it? Business execs would compare it to a blackberry and think it overpriced. Consumers would compare it to an ipod and think it overpriced.

Proposed vs Actual Usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848927)

To paraphrase an old adage:

Unlike the iPod, "PDA's are so well-rounded that they're not going anywhere"

I've seen users justify a PDA to be connected, do business, and be compatible
with their computer environment. Then they end up just playing games or MP3s.

Laptops (3, Insightful)

RUFFyamahaRYDER (887557) | about 9 years ago | (#13848929)

Because laptops have 90% of the function of a PC and they run on the stuff that people already know (MAC OS and Win XP). The only thing a PDA has on a laptop is size, and even then size can work against PDA's because it's easier to type on a bigger keyboard and look at a bigger screen that all laptops have...

Why choose? (1)

Tidal Flame (658452) | about 9 years ago | (#13848930)

Like everyone else has said, PDAs don't make good portable media devices because they're too big, don't have enough storage space, and are usually somewhat lacking in terms of battery life.

But we're all geeks here... why choose? I've got a PDA, camera phone, digital camera, laptop, and an iPod. It's a lot of gear so I obviously can't take it all everywhere... which means I do need to sacrifice certain functionality sometimes... but it also means that if I know ahead of time what I need, I can pick the device best suited for the job.

I think it's simple, but am I wrong? (3, Informative)

OS24Ever (245667) | about 9 years ago | (#13848932)

The last PDA I bought was a Palm T3 to replace my Treo 300 that I was furious at sprint with because the flip top lid thing snapped off after about eight months of use and the prick told me it was misuse. I am 'careful' with my devices and being told I chucked it at a wall in hopes of an upgrade really made my day.

Anyway, a PDA while decent to do lots of stuff, it doesn't do lots of stuff well.

There are things out there to improve the experience, but most of the time they cost money.

A iPod works out of the box, you don't have to jiggle here, tweak there, poke here. That's why the Pocket Windows devices appeal more to geeks but not to the rest of the world. On a lot of things I want them to Just Work (TM) and it seems when there is a device out there that 'does more stuff and costs the same' it doesn't Just Work(TM) you gott a dick with it. I don't get paid to dick with little devices to listen to music or look up my calendar so I'm not gonna waste my time and look for something that just works (TM)

My $0.02

PDA vs iPod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848934)

Having one do-all device is the best in my opinion. People love the idea of carrying 20GB of music with then, but I imagine that a very very small percentage of people actually make use of so much space.

I've found that 512MB in my cell phone holds more than enough music to keep me happy. Have't touched the iPod in almost a year. Everyone carries a cellphone, so why not make good use of it instead of buying a separate device?

Agree with submitter (1)

imemyself (757318) | about 9 years ago | (#13848936)

I would agree with the submitter. I love my PDA. I can look view/send email, look at websites, take notes/contact/other data, view and edit document, etc. I can't see why people bitch so much about touch screens, and then go and use a little tiny screen on a cell phone that you have to control by just using a couple buttons. I can play music and videos on my PPC. I don't really see who would need 60 gigs of storage for just music. I mean, if you have that many songs, you might as well listen to the radio(disregarding sound quality, which personally isn't worth $400 or whatever iPods cost).

While not totally related to the subject, Palm just released a new PDA. It actually looks rather nice for them, it has bluetooth and wifi and isn't hideously expensive. If only they had this before I got my PocketPC, which doesn't easily-is a royal pain in the ass- sync with Linux, I really would have considered this. Maybe Palm has a little hope left.

PDAs haven't failed... (5, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | about 9 years ago | (#13848937)

I have a Treo 650. It's a phone, it's a PDA, it's a pretty good MP3 player, it's a pretty good games machine to pass the time when I'm bored travelling and it's power-efficient too (and has a removable battery). All in a small form factor.

People who make generic statements such as "PDAs have failed" are just simply wrong.

Re:PDAs haven't failed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849052)

Right. Now wake me up when the Treo 650 that runs Windows Mobile Edition is for sale (so I can run smartphone apps - including my own), at a decent price (that also means without a long and expensive contract), and with a big internal HD (for all the apps/ebooks/music).

If it existed, I'd buy one today.

Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848939)

Size. iPods and other mp3 players are significantly smaller and/or sleeker looking.

It's that you look like a total tool (1)

birge (866103) | about 9 years ago | (#13848941)

carrying around a one pound brick and surfing the net while you wait in the middle of the subway station. People with iPods want to bring music with them. People with PDAs want to bring work with them. Who would you rather hang around? (Forgetting that 'neither' is probably the best answer, I mean.)

Re:It's that you look like a total tool (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 9 years ago | (#13849054)

My IPAQ doesn't weigh a pound- in fact, most IPODs weigh more. But I'm more interested in your use of language. What does "look like a total tool" mean? Can you explain it in terms that somebody from 1950 can read and understand? If not, then I have to dismiss that as mere fad, and only idiots go for fads.

My View... (3, Insightful)

michaelzhao (801080) | about 9 years ago | (#13848949)

My parents have often asked if I needed a Pocket PC. Invariably, my answer is always "no." I thought about it for 5 minutes of why I said "no" upon reading this article. I have come up with reasons (BTW, I have an iPod):

1. No use. I have a laptop, a desktop, a cellphone, and iPod. The laptop and desktop are meant to be ubquitous devices. They handle anything I throw at it. The iPod is for use for my huge music library (50 Gigabytes). No PocketPC could handle that. And my cell-phone is my phonebook.

2. Price. A PocketPC is around the price of an iPod. However, why didn't I buy a PocketPC instead of an iPod? Simple. Refer back to reason 1. I have no use for a PocketPC. I have no need to addictively log on to Technorati, Digg, or Slashdot. Also, checking e-mail every 5 minutes gets old. To me, the PocketPC doesn't do any one factor well. The iPod does music extremely well. What does the PocketPC do well? Organization? Well, between the back of my hand, my memory, and my pen and paper, I do got that base covered.

3. Price of Internet. Lets assume I'm not near any unsecured WiFi hotspot. To utilize the expensive brick I just bought to the max, I would have to get online. Well... T-Mobile Internet is $20 a month for abysmally slow Internet. Also, why would I connect using a PocketPC when my cellphone connects to the Internet just as fast and just as well?

4. Lack of Apps. Lets face it, PocketPC's lack Apps. I put everything I need on my laptop. I owned a PocketPC before, it died, I didn't need a new one. But lack of apps really hounded it.

My views on improving the PocketPC.

1. Bigger hard-drive. Between my 80 Gig Laptop, my 73.4 + 2x250 HD's on my laptop, and my 60Gig iPod, the PocketPC suffers from suitable space.
2. Lack of Apps. With not enough users, developers are loathe to code for it.
3. Price. Clocking in at the price of my iPod and considering how little I would never considering dropping the cash.

Three reasons why iPod and paper beats a PDA (5, Interesting)

bexmex (663081) | about 9 years ago | (#13848951)

1) battery life

Your average iPod will play for 10 hours on a charge. You average PDA is lucky to last one hour. Putting the MP3 decoding in hardware is a huge battery saver. Although keeping it in software adds OGG support.

2) crash!

In the event that you didn't know #1, and your battery drains, those Pocket PCs have a nasty habit of deleting every file they can find.

3) effortless synch

With a PDA you have to manually move folders of MP3s over. Not much playlist support. The iPod with iTunes is effortless, especially with Party Shuffle.

Synching in general is my main gripe about my PDA. Its a royal pain in the ass to synch unless you use 100% microsoft, and it takes forever. No thanks. Palm is better on the Macs, but not by much. And considering problem #2, being able to quickly synch with many different apps and servers is VITAL.

Until somebody solves problem #3, Ive pretty much shelved my Axim. I use an iPod and a Hipster PDA [] instead. It wont synch, but neither will it crash.

If you really want to know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848955)

I'll ask your mom, when she comes up for air.

Well, reasons (1)

G00F (241765) | about 9 years ago | (#13848959)

Battery life, Simple to use, cost. Also most people enjoy listening to music, but PDA is work.

Jack of all trades.... (5, Insightful)

irritating environme (529534) | about 9 years ago | (#13848962)

Truly a jack of all trades, master of none problem

The iPod is a focused device that does its original intent quite well. PDAs never did any of their information tasks very well, and considering a mini-laptop was far more useful and almost as portable, PDAs beyond address books (which a watch or phone does better now) never justified their 300-500 dollar price point.

I worked at a startup that chased enterprise apps on PDAs in the early 00s.

Developer tools sucked/expensive/closed, and the APIs changed constantly. MS does this junk on the desktop all the time with technologies, as in OLE->COM->DCOM->whatever, but can hide backwards compatibility in the OS bloat, but PDAs don't have room for backwards bloat. So no vibrant utilities or third-party apps really flourished. Palm wasn't much better, either.

I mean, try making an enterprise app for all the diffrent flavors of Palm+PocketPC. Jesus, it's like writing a 3D driving game for the NES, SNES, and Playstation2 all at once. Too expensive, and not enough money to be made.

Heck, processor architectures and fundamental OS capabilities (single-thread vs preemptive multitasking) changed constantly.

Battery life was always terrible, and if you ran out of battery, POOF! goes your installed apps and data (on the iPaq at least).

Finally, when I had to pay $150 for a damn PCMCIA sleeve for an iPaq that cost only $250, man, that is just WRONG. Any interesting thing you could do with it, from early WiFi or heck even wired networking went out the window with that.

So basically, the PDA market fragmented into dozens of minimarkets, where nothing could flourish. This was okay in the nascent PC market back in 1980 and you could release a computer with just BASIC interpreter and an extremely rudimentary OS, but people have far different expectations of applications (actual user interfaces, connectivity to internet, etc).

PDA's don't work (1)

SimBuddha (924737) | about 9 years ago | (#13848964)

I have the ultimate PDA, a HP6315. 1 Gig of flash, T Mobile Phone, WiFi, BlueTooth, touch screen, the works. Problem is it just doesn't work and when it does it takes minutes of fiddling with. Then it crashes and forgets everything or the wireless goes haywire and won't connect. One day these things will be great but today my 60 Gig Ipod works fine and my HP PDA sits idle.

Poor marketing (2, Insightful)

psycho_driver (171270) | about 9 years ago | (#13848971)

As the proud owner of a Nokia 3300(b) cell phone, I found myself wondering almost the same thing recently. Cingular has started advertising a new phone line with mp3/itunes support as if it's a hot new item. My phone (which is over two years old now) has 512MB worth of mp3s in it, which sound great when played back via the nokia dbus earphones. It also features nice battery life, probably twelve hours of continuous mp3 playback. True, it doesn't have itunes support, but realistically would you rather have a phone you can hook up to your pc and transfer mp3s off of your hard drive, or one that you have to pay $.99 for every song?

My phone also has a full keyboard, something I felt was a necessity for taking quick notes and because I'm a huge text message flirt. I'm wondering why this phone (the 3300) had such a small impact on the market when it's so feature rich? My guess would be the lack of any advertising done on its part. I do a lot of research before making any serious purchase, but I'm guessing the majority of America just buys whatever they see on tv most often, or perhaps most recently. Back when the 3300 came out those chintzy camera phones were all the rage and were getting all the tv airtime on commercials.

Maybe you should just consider yourself trendy and go around telling everybody you see with a video ipod "I could do that two years ago!" :)

In one word... (2, Insightful)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 9 years ago | (#13848973)


Can any palm-top computer reach the ease of use of an ipod, or any other portable media player? I have a Palm Tungsten T5, and it surely is more difficult to use, even when I'm just running the Real music player.

It doesn't help that ipods mostly are measured in gigabytes, not megabytes.

It's marketing, and software (4, Insightful)

digitalgimpus (468277) | about 9 years ago | (#13848974)

The iPod is successful for two reasons: ease of use, quality

That's something lacking on most PDA's. Palm OS was great, has become patchzilla with about a billion things bolted on that old OS, and the new version is still vaporware. Microsoft on the other hand, released a complex, ugly looking OS that makes that tiny screen feel way to overwhelming.

As far as quality goes... well think about it. The Treo isn't bad, but has it's downsides, those cheap Dell PDA's are just that, cheap.

For there to be a winner, someone has to do what Apple did. Combine killer features, and quality with ease of use.

Palm had that formula for a while, but dropped the ball a few years ago. Sony picked up the hardware side with the Clie, which I still carry around. As far as the software goes... it never came back.

I'm still waiting for my new Apple PDA.

50TH POST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13848977)

YIPPEEE! Not the first post! The fiftiest fucking post!


Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849041)

Hey it is funny. At least it is different from "first post".

iPods are Hip, PDAs are for Dorques (2, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 9 years ago | (#13848978)

At least that's what the marketing weenies tell us. Simply put, PDA's ain't chic. Once the iPod fad fades (in a little less than a year if you're the betting type), their sales will stabilize and then generally decline. That's the difference between a trend and a fad. I think mp3 players are a trend, iPods, a fad. Not that anyone, save slashdot, asked...

PDAs suck (1)

pontifier (601767) | about 9 years ago | (#13848984)

It's the memory and proprietary formats. I have lost my data 3 times when a pda battery goes dies. with proprietary formats on windows ce or palm the files are hard to move back and forth and use in both places. I won't use one for anything important untill they have non volatile memory, and I can run any software I want on it.

People just don't want them... (2, Interesting)

Robotech_Master (14247) | about 9 years ago | (#13848985) least, not in big enough numbers to make it worthwhile to make them.

Jeff Kirvin talks about this in the latest entry in his Writing On Your Palm [] blog. He points out that companies like Toshiba, Sony, and HP who used to make all these high-end super-geek-toy PDAs--the "Ferarris of handhelds"--are now either out of the PDA industry altogether, or at least having a hard time keeping up. Whereas Palm, who makes "Toyotas," just keeps on ticking.

Apparently there just isn't a market for a super-duper-gee-whiz-does-everything PDA at this point.

Doing One Thing Well Counts (2, Insightful)

Gumber (17306) | about 9 years ago | (#13848996)

Because more functionality isn't aways better, especially in a smaller device.

You might as well be asking why people buy screwdrivers and pliers instead of a single Leathermen.

Complex UI (1)

Dunx (23729) | about 9 years ago | (#13849008)

From a sleeping iPod, it takes me two button presses to get music, a couple more with a swish on the wheel to pick a particular album. How many on a multifunction device?

Multifunctional devices are hard to design a good UI for.

Single function devices can be designed with a much more focussed UI which makes the common functions much easier to access.

It's simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849016)

PDAs are basically too hard to use. My Treo 650 is a marvelous device. It has 2 GB flash storage -- enough for hundreds of songs or a few movies -- that is swappable. I just don't believe the procedure for loading it with material is convenient enough to go mainstream with people.

Work devices vs. play devices (1)

G4from128k (686170) | about 9 years ago | (#13849017)

Most people don't need (or want) the functionality of a PDA. They don't need a contact manager, mobile calendar program, wireless web browser, email, document reader, word processor, etc. Yes, some fraction of the world (road warriors and geeks) may want a multifunctional highly utilitarian device, but most people can't even program their VCRs and just want to carry around some music.

The iPod sells because people do want portable entertainment. PDAs are too much work and remind people too much of work. Personally, I love my Psion 5mx but its obvious that I am part of an economically unsustainable niche market.

The 22surfboard--An All-in-One Open-Source Media S (1)

22RealMcCoy (864375) | about 9 years ago | (#13849020)

The technology for ventures centered upon open-source CMS & DRM is all there as outlined at for rights definitions; http and REST web services for content transfer, rights negotiation, and syndication; SSL, PGP, Media-S, and OPENIPMP for encryption and security; bit torrent for accelerated downloads, and LAMP applications such as postnuke, phpnuke, xoops, oscommerce, and netjuke for media browsing, buying, serving, and viewing. Surf's up, but there's nothing to surf it with.

A 22surfboard will be an all-in-one handheld device that holds books, movies, and more. It will readily run standard Linux distros, including RedHat, Suse, and Gentoo. Designed with the Linux-Apache-MYSQL-PHP (LAMP) developer community in mind, it will inherit the vast power of the sourceforge LAMP community who are hungry for a true Linux handheld/media-device to hack. []

Data cost (1)

awful (227543) | about 9 years ago | (#13849026)

I've been using an i-mate for the past three weeks - the best thing about it is accessing the web via GPRS. The phone is dumb, the camera pathetic. However if I had the $ I'd get one BUT for the cost per kb charged by Telstra. That's the sticking point for pda's in Australia.

Price & Play (1)

Sundroid (777083) | about 9 years ago | (#13849031)

"Price" element -- You can buy the cheapest iPod for $99 with 512MB storage, but the $99 model PDA (Palm Z22) holds only 32MB data and can barely do anything.

"Play" element -- Nobody associates PDA with "play", while iPod is all about having fun.

Price!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849033)

For the price of a decent PDA, you can get MP3 player with at least an order of magnitude more storage space.

Winchester Factor (1)

lexbaby (88257) | about 9 years ago | (#13849036)

Charles Winchester (sp?) on MASH would say "I do one thing at a time. I do it very well. And then I move on."

Although PDAs are cool and nifty doing a bunch of things, they don't do anything well. Dayplanners are easier to take notes and schedule day-to-day tasks. Watches are better for telling time. Jump drives are easier to mobile storage. Ipods have more storage, simpler interface and better sound quality for music. Laptops are better for internet communication and business applications.

I think most people just want the best tool for the job and not extra tools they don't need.

UI (1)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | about 9 years ago | (#13849037)

the user interface on my palm treo 650 sucks ass compared to my ipod. Yes, I know they do very differnt things. I would much rather use my ipod than my treo any day.

Reliability/Ease of Use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849038)

I'm using a Pocket PC. It fails quite often, causing me to restore all the data that was lost from the flash memory (luckily there's a nice program that helps all this). Buying/downloading software is a pain as there are multiple chipsets one has to deal with (ARM, MIPS, etc.). I, for one, have installed a lot of things on it to the point that it has become a large part of my life and extremely useful. I don't imagine the average user wanting to deal with all this, though. I believe to make a dent in the market, one would actually have to sell a PDA with a lot of useful stuff already installed. Also, this thing would have to take a beating. I'm sure iPods are dropped all over the place, yet they continue working. I see people complain in droves when there's a scratch. My PDA has died and I had to find a replacement battery and replace it myself and my screen looks like shit, but I still keep with it. I imagine if the iPod suffered the same problems, it would not sell like it does now.

Treo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13849059)

I think it's ignorance and marketing.

I've a Treo 650. I'd never buy an ipod, but my Treo is a phone, a remote control, a calender, an organizer, a document reader, an mp3/wma reader that can sync with rhapsody, napster, itunes, etc, I can watch movies, browse the web, use AIM, YAHOO, and MSN Messenger, I can take pictures and I can take video.

Does it do all that the BEST? Nah. But I can put a gig of memory on it which is more than enough for how much music I ever really want with me. But it's the best device I ever owned and has proved itself to be quite amazing.

Easy /= PDA, but = iPod (2, Insightful)

wernst (536414) | about 9 years ago | (#13849060)

A PDA has been my constant companion since my Psion 3a in 1993, and I've since moved through Palms and Treos to my current Treo 650. The Treo has abilities my poor little Psion would never have dreamed of, and despite a much better user interface, is just as complex to use overall because of it. It is about as complex as a modern PC or Macintosh, just as my Psion was about as complex as PCs or Macs were back in 1993. I happen to be comfortable with this, and it seems the original poster of the question is too.

The iPod I carry around in my bag is about as simple to use as the cassete tape-playing Walkman I had in High school, in spite of the fact that it has far more abilties than that Walkman ever had. That lowers the barriers to ownership right there.

Then toss in the "cool factor" that comes with each iPod, and contrast that to the "nerd factor" that comes with every PDA, and it is soon clear why there are a few billion more iPods than PDAs out there.

it's not "trendy" (1)

AndyG314 (760442) | about 9 years ago | (#13849061)

The Pda isn't trendy. People don't just buy an iPod because it is a good mp3 player, but also because they are in. the iPod is no better than lots of other portable mp3 players, many of which are cheaper or have extra feaures (voicd mp3 encoder, FM radio and no DRM). The iPod is "cool" and the PDA isn't. Goodbuy Karma, but it sooooo true
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