Unwired for Sound
November 2003 - By Teresa von Fuchs

Looking to outfit your mobile workers with new PDAs in 2004? Unless they sport wireless connectivity, you could risk falling behind your competitors. According to Randy Giusto, VP of personal technology at market research firm IDC, the percentage of unconnected PDAs—those with no embedded wireless connection or voice capability—is on the decline. “The unconnected PDA has got some life to it, but when we look at the roadmaps from most of the vendors over the next year, it’s pretty obvious that a large percentage of the products they’re going to ship are going to have some kind of wireless connectivity to them; most notably it’s voice,” says Giusto, author of new reports on the futures of the PDA and handset markets.

Giusto cites the prolonged economic downturn for slow enterprise-wide PDA adoption, but he predicts that PDA sales will pick up with the economy. Moreover, he asserts that PDAs are still a good business tool, for the simple reason they always have been. “Despite all the push on specialized applications, people are still buying PDAs for basic PIM functionality and the new mobile office applications, like e-mail.” Giusto says he sees “people starting to move e-mail to wireless and do it on the device instead of on a notebook.” That’s a good sign for PDA vendors, who are led in the market-share battle by Palm, with HP in second and Dell coming up strong for third.

The economy equally battered the handset market. “Handset markets took it on the chin the last two years,” Giusto explains. “This year we should see some modest growth, then things should start to pick up next year.” Enterprise spending on handsets will remain slow, however, “because IT budgets are pretty much locked down for the remainder of this year and [enterprises] are being very conservative over the next 12 months.”

In terms of converged handset/PDA devices, giving these devices a voice is key to their future, Giusto says. “This [converged] market has not done that well. It’s a bit over-hyped, but we think that with the PDA vendors adding more voice capabilities those numbers will continue to grow.”


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