Friday, November 17, 2006

PDA versus iPod

I currently use a Tungsten T3 PDA with Palm OS5 operating system that has been serving me very well for the last two years. Prior to that I used a Sony Clie T655 PDA with Palm OS4 operating system which also served me very well for another two years, and since then I must admit that I have become so dependent on my PDA that I don't know how I could do without it. It wakes me up in the morning, reminds me of all my important appointments and anniversaries, has all my contacts, keeps track of my financials, tracks my car mileage, carries my various databases, has my eBooks, plays my mp3 music, and even helps me practice my Morse code skills. I also use it to do simple programming and various computational tasks. This is all fine and dandy, but I thought I needed more serious music and video storage and playback while on the move, so I recently bought a 30 Gb G5 iPod which I am falling dearly in love with. This iPod has all my music library which is over 5 Gb; it carries about 2 Gb of my personal movies that I transferred from my MAC generated DVD's, and it holds all my photos library which is another 2.5 Gb. This is a total of 9.5 Gb, and I still have over 20 Gb of memory left for storing eBooks and Podcasts if I needed to carry any, or I could simply use it as a mobile hard drive to store regular files from my computer. In addition, my iPod has all my contacts from my MAC laptop, although I cannot change or input anything from the iPod itself, and it has an alarm system that I could use similar to the PDA.
Obviously there is some overlap between PDA and iPod here but I would surely say it is far from total at present. Is it possible that some day the iPod and PDA will be one device? Right now I would say the answer is no. To merge the two devices into one you need a PDA that has 30 Gb of memory, that is slim and light in weight, and has movie play capability. Or conversely, you need an iPod with data entry and programming capability.
I posted a question in this blog before whether or not the mobile phone and PDA could merge as one device, and now I reformulate the question as follows: Is it possible in the future that the mobile phone, PDA and iPod will all be integrated into one universal device that could do all their respective functions? It is quite possible that as the level of integration and miniaturization increases over time it would be possible to have one device that can do everything the PDA and iPod are both capable of, and, in addition, has communications capability like a phone. But at least for the foreseeable future, it looks like we will still have three distinct devices: The iPod for music and video, the mobile phone for communications, and the PDA for programmability and data entry. It might be a matter of time before all three can be integrated into one slim device, but I wonder if that makes sense from the business point of view. To me it seems there will always be a distinction between the three dedicated functions that people would prefer to have separate, and most importantly that the manufacturers would prefer to produce as individual devices. What do you think?