PDAphone sales a trickle

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Despite recent hype, the market for integrated PDA/phone devices has failed to kick.

Channel analyst Inform said that of the 100,000 PDAs sold in Australia so far this year, only one percent or just over 1000 units were combination PDA/phone devices. Around 900 of these devices were Handspring 180, 180G and 270 model Treos, first launched in March this year.

It is understood that only 150 Cyberbank PC E-phones - which are being distributed by Ingram Micro - have been sold in Australia.

Hefty prices, a consumer preference towards two separate devices for phone and PDA applications and the wait for a Telstra's next generation (1XRTT) CDMA network have stalled sales of these integrated devices.

Inform analyst Luke Solyom, said the main reason combination PDA/phones haven't kicked in is price.

With some devices hovering toward the $2000 mark, consumers and corporates are generally only prepared to pay for a device that is sub-$1500. Apart from the wait for Telstra's new CDMA network, combination devices aren't practical when a user is on the phone and needs to enter information into the machine, he said.

“For the hardcore PDA user, having a phone to their ear to take a call prohibits them from entering data into the PDA,” he said. “Those using the devices are the elite. I can't say when it [the market] is going to take off,” he said.

Distributor Tech Pacific seems completely underwhelmed by this emerging market.

Kerry Baillie, MD at Tech Pacific, believes even as vendors introduce more integrated mobile devices to market, there won't necessarily be an urgent uptake. “But it is a category that will grow,” he said. Tech Pacific is currently looking at distributing the $1699 mmo2 XDA PDA/phone, which is being marketed in Australia by Microsoft and Telstra.

Baillie said the distributor will take a “softly softly” approach to this market. “I don't think it is one area that we need to make a song and dance about at this point. It's an evolution of what we've already got rather than a new category,” he said.

Baillie couldn't gauge the uptake of PDAphones but said he doesn't think they'll take over from mobile devices that already exist in the market. “I don't think they'll replace phones that we've already got,” he said.

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