PDA market continues to vanish

Having once held pride of place as the trendiest technology for early adopters, PDAs and mobile organisers are struggling for survival in a market dominated by smart phones and other convergent mobile offerings.

IDC hardware analyst, Mercie Clement, said converged shipments of traditional PDAs fell by 18.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2006. Mobile devices with phone and organiser functionality now accounted for 93 per cent of the market.

"There is still a little bit of life in the market for Filofax replacement but most of the focus is on converged mobile devices," she said.

Retailers such as BuyQuick continue to do well in high-end phones and notebook computers but are hard pressed to remember when they last sold a PDA.

"Palm used to be one of our largest sellers, but I don't think we have sold a single PDA in the last 3-4 months," BuyQuick spokesperson, Kathy Stepanovski, said. "People are moving to high-end mobile phones because you don't have to spend much to get all the features you want."

But technical manager for Melbourne-based technology retailer Organiser King, Peter Restaino, said there was still interest in PDAs for replacement sales.

"If you've never had an organiser before, chances are you'll go for a high-end phone," Restaino said. "But people who are used to working with a PDA get frustrated because, although the phones offer a lot of functions, they still don't do all of it very well.

"Palm is still popular and more products like the Treo, which is a phone as well as an organiser, will bring the market back."

IDC's Clement said the next generation of converged devices should target niche markets if they are to survive.

"The trend will be towards more converged devices focused on specific markets," Clement said. "There is some level of innovation but PDA vendors need to develop their products in order to boost sales."

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