Saturday, February 12, 2005

The PDA industry is loosing its design enthusiasm-another look at the topic

We all saw the PocketFactory editorial about how the PDA industry was loosing design enthusiasm. The post led to an enormous amount of visitors and comments, probably to both PocketFactory andPalmInfoCenter.
On the first look, this may be true. After the Palm V, little new design has been introduced-lets ignore the sliders for now. The industry is loosing its design enthusiasm and will die soon-voila, our perfect editorial that will produce lots of trolling and put the page/author back in the people's minds!
When you look at the editorial closer you shall see that-well-there isn't that much to innovate anymore. There literally are hundreds of OEMs that producte handheld devices-and from factors aren't infinite. Thus, everything that is celebrated as an "innovation" will usually already have existed for a loong time before.
Lets take the Zodiac 2 as an example-it has a nice landscape form factor, I agree on that. But is it innovative? No, it is not-the GameBoy advanced has already done this for years, and so has the Atari Lynx. We already saw it before, remember?
Another popular example for "innovation" is the UX50-but I see no innovation here either-PocketPC's had had this form factor for quite a long time(e.g. HP Jornada 710), and the REVO's got great in exactly this format!
Now, please get back to the topic of innovation-if almost everything has already been done once, there is little place to do something new. You can only redo it again and again-and that is what the PDA industry is doing right now! But this should not be called lack of innovation, its a sign of maturing industry boys and gals.
And something else-why aren't PDA's ultimately cool anymore? Well, because eyeryone has one now! Ten years ago a PDA was a nvoelty, that only few people had access to. Nowadays, everyone can have a handheld, everybody knows it, everybody is accustomed to it and thus it is cool no more!
What do you have to say?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can really close down, everything that can be invented has already been invented.-- Don't know the name, director of New York patent office, 1910

8:06 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Have you ever wondered why most small cars look alike today? It's because when you optimize a body style for minimum air resistance and drag, there's pretty much only 1 look.

I think that's where things are right now with PDAs: given the current technology and current customer wants, there's a fairly narrow range of PDA possibilities.

Also, while I'd love to have my Zodiac replace my Tungsten C, it just wouldn't look good having something that looks like a GameBoy in the boardroom. Let's face it, people who buy PDAs frequently use them primarily for business purposes - everything else is just a "nice to have".

IMHO, until we see significant changes in 1) screen technology and 2) battery technology (like organic LEDs and fuel cells), PDAs are pretty much going to be stuck as they are.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Ron is right. If you use the rule “form follows function”, we really are about to the end of the rainbow when it comes to form factor. Lets hope the palm industry doesn’t follow the laptop market’s example. I’ve got friends with laptops that rival some home theatre systems, and have the size to match. Honestly, I don’t much care what shape the new hammer is, as long as I can drive the nail in faster. Features and speed is where it’s at!

You want a new form; have a woman design it, someone who’s never going to believe “form follows function”. Jack Nicholson’s best line in any movie is in As Good As It Gets. When asked how he new women so well, he says “I take a man, and I take away reason and accountability.” Truer words were never spoken.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

I can only agree to the statements above! However, I have two little questions/annotations:
1)Aren't organic LED's intended as screen technology? Also, I personally do not trust fuel cels too much. After having a long discussion with a Doctor of Chemistry, we came to the conclusion that fuel cells will have a hard stand in PDA's-current always is easier to get then H2..
2)Never underestimate a woman.....
Thank you for commenting and best regards
Tam Hanna

8:58 PM  

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