Conglomerate Inc., a major U.S. wireless carrier, has teamed up with a PC manufacturer to form a joint venture, Netlink, to develop, produce and market a hybrid product integrating a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) with a “smart” cellular phone. Its first product is tentatively called ConneCtor. ConneCtor directly transmits and receives both data and voice. It is lightweight but heavier than a cell phone whose shape it emulates. It comes with a backlit grayscale LCD screen of moderate resolution. Its operating system is the PalmOS, which is common in PDAs. Thus, ConneCtor allows the user, among other things, to access the standard tools of Personal Information Management (PIM) and also performs standard cell phone functions. ConneCtor can send and receive faxes and e-mail, access the Internet, and record voice messages. Users can input data into the PDA in the following ways: • By • By • By • By using the on-screen keyboard using the numerical keypad writing on the screen (using handwriting recognition software) speaking into the phone, using a voice recorder.
An additional feature of ConneCtor is its ability to establish wireless links to other ConneCtors for voice and data transfer or to cell phones for voice transfer. For direct data transfer, the product includes an infrared port and also ships with a USB synchronization cradle. In summary, the key features of ConneCtor are: • Instant communication for voice and data • Cell phone, pager, fax and e-mail, and instant messaging • PIM functions • Digital voice recorder • Enabled voice commands • PalmOS application base.
The History of the PDA
The Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) is basically a hand-held computer. In 1984, the first PDA, the Psion1, was introduced. It could store addresses and phone numbers, keep a calendar, and included a clock and calculator. In 1993, Apple introduced the Newton PDA, which was too bulky, too expensive and had handwriting recognition too inaccurate to be successful. However, the excitement surrounding the Newton hinted that there could be a market for such devices. The broad acceptance of PDA technology then materialized in 1996, when Palm Inc. came out with the Palm Pilot that featured an elegant user interface and a reliable character-recognition system. By 2001, PDAs had evolved to offer many applications including wireless Internet capabilities, games and music playback. PDAs are designed for very specific tasks and environments: there are custom-built PDAs for amateur astronomers, truck drivers and teachers. In addition, there is specialized software available to fit specific needs; for example, people in the medical fields can obtain software that lists thousands of drugs with their dosages and interactions.
The 2001 palm-sized PDA market was mainly composed of two types, each with its own philosophy: (1) the PDA/Palm devices run PalmOS, whose developers sought to make PDAs simple but functional products focusing on Personal Information Management (PIM) tasks; (2) the PDA/Pocket PCs run the more complex operating system, Microsoft Windows CE, which allows these PDAs to offer 1 Source: Marketing Engineering – Lilien and Rangaswamy
extensive features. In addition, “smart” phones are breaking into the PDA world. These wireless application protocol phones extend traditional cell phones with PDA functions such as email and Web access. The original Palm Pilot embodied the PDA/Palm design mission. It provided a simple organizational device, composed of a calendar, an address book and a to-do list with e-mail and Internet access. It also had a character-recognition system that worked for most people. Handspring, Palm’s biggest competitor, introduced snap-on modules to expand the Handspring Visor and allow many applications, including an MP3 player, a web cam and digital camera. These features appealed to the youth market and enabled Handspring to gain considerable market...