Low replacement rates and slow shipments have been paralyzing the PDA industry for some time, according to technology research firm ABI. However, the emergence of converged devices, such as the connected PDA, may be the latest relief the industry has been seeking, the firm says.
While connected PDAs have not gained much traction due, in part, to limitations of existing form factors, ABI says that new connected PDA products like the soon to be launched Treo 600 may change this.
According to the research firm, connected PDAs and smartphones differ in that connected PDAs are converged devices with a PDA-based standardized OS like that of Palm or Microsoft Mobile Software for Pocket PCs. Smartphones, on the other hand, are more like standard cellular handsets and employ a related OS. "Connected PDAs will represent over 50 percent of the total PDA market by 2006, unlike Smartphones, which will continue to represent only a small portion of the overall handset market," says Kenil Vora, ABI analyst.
ABI’s newest report, "Personal Digital Assistants: A Strategic Analysis of Connected and Unconnected PDAs," examines the strategies adopted by major PDA OEMs and analyzes revenue growth expected in the Connected PDA market. The report finds that the overall PDA market is expected to grow to U.S. $10 billion by 2008, with a major portion derived from Connected PDAs.
Despite other research claiming an overall decline in the traditional PDA market, ABI contends that this market will actually experience modest growth of 8 percent CAAG through 2008, due to different form factors and emerging technology applications, including telematics, satellite location, barcode scanning, RFID tracking, and digital photography.
Operating Systems will be a major factor for the connected PDA market as well, according to the report. While PalmSource is focused solely on the connected PDA market, Linux and Microsoft also compete in the smartphone segment with different variants of their OS. In this segment, Symbian’s OS dominates the market. According to ABI, Symbian will continue to garner individual customers for its user-friendly OS, while Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Software for smartphones will "serve to frenzy the enterprise user."
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