Phones smarter than PDAs?

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Smartphones are tipped to take marketshare from PDAs next year, Gartner analysts have predicted.

Gartner Group has released figures extrapolated from recent research that suggest worldwide smartphone sales may jump 140 percent to 20.7 million units next year. Demand for PDAs globally was expected to flatten.

Ken Dulaney, a mobility analyst at Gartner, said PDAs using the Palm operating system would maintain their slim lead in that market, while the biggest battle would be between smartphone platforms by Microsoft, Symbian and Linux. Meanwhile Palm is negotiating to buy competitor and smartphone producer Handspring.

Major mobile phone brands Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Ericsson, Siemens, Panasonic and Psion use the Symbian OS.

Dulaney believed no converged device would ever suit all customers. “You can read email on a camera, but that is not optimal,” he said. As a result, device standardisation within businesses would remain elusive. Employees often ignored management's choice of handheld, instead going out to buy their own and demanding integration with company systems.

“A strategy of managed diversity is the solution. Devices in an organisation are going to triple very quickly. They'll be everywhere -- like shoes in Imelda Marcos's closet,” Dulaney said.

Robin Simpson, mobile and wireless analyst at Gartner, agreed with Dulaney, saying Australian users tended to view handhelds as a fashion item rather than a work tool.

Meanwhile, Dulaney claimed an increasing demand from US handheld users for “email everywhere” would sweep the Asia-Pacific, including Australia.

“The American enterprise market is demanding email rather than SMS on their wireless mobile devices. This could result in a leap in productivity of US workers by 2005 as they process business messages more efficiently. Australia should move more quickly than Europe in this area,” Dulaney said.

The future of the handheld device market will be discussed at Gartner's upcoming symposium in Sydney 11 to 14 November.


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