So the traditional PDA market is not great, but we predict traditional PDA makers won’t stay out of the smartphone category for long.

IDC recently revealed that the pen-based PDA market took a sequential nosedive in the first quarter of this year, suffering a humiliating 26 per cent crash, while it’s voice-enabled cousin took all the limelight.

PDA’s are still looking for their killer application. Equipping them with GSM/GPRS will certainly help the category, enabling Blackberry-style email connectivity. What is really needed though is for critical business applications such as ERP and CRM to graduate to inbuilt mobile support. Sure you can build it in yourself, but if it comes straight out of the box, it makes it more compelling to business.

Meanwhile, the idea of connecting these troubled islands of computing power is catching on. Of course, then they are not PDAs, they are converged devices and as they morph into the new category, adding voice, VoIP and multimedia features, the lines between PDA and smartphone will continue to blur.

Take the HP iPaq 6300 series as an example along the way. Packed with quad band GSM/GPRS, WiFi and Bluetooth, this device offers real mobility, processing power and all the multimedia features of today’s mobile phones.

Another in this data-centric category is the i-mate PDA2 (pictured). Just announced, this tri-band, WiFi, Bluetooth phone runs Windows Mobile on a 520MHz XScale processor with 128MB RAM. Email is easily set-up using free hosted Exchange from i-mate.
Both of these products are currently being sold with Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003. Microsoft’s announcement that Windows Mobile 5.0 features email integration with Exchange servers support will make these platforms more compelling for business users. Coupled with the announcement in March that Symbian is licensing Microsoft’s Active-Sync technology to deploy as a plug-in, making over the air email a possibility will also bring products like the 3G Motorola A1000 into competition with ; active-sync technologythe Blackberry.

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