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// Tales from software development

Death of the PDA

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Twice in the past month, or so, I’ve become aware of a technological change in the landscape by trying to buy something that has become scarce because its time has passed.

The first was a few weeks ago when I had a leak in the plumbing in my house and my phone call logger got soaked and died. The logger was pretty useful because it logged all incoming calls with the date and time and also ‘announced’ recognised callers. If the phone number provided by Caller ID matched a known phone number it replayed a voice annotation which you’d typically set up as the name of the caller. So, even without checking the Caller ID display on the log or the phone itself you’d know if it was a friend or family member calling.

I went shopping for a new Caller ID log and discovered that they’ve almost disappeared. Because most phones now incorporate a Caller ID display the sales of separate Caller ID displays and loggers has dropped off to the point where no one is bothering to manufacture or market them.

Next, last week I discovered that the PDA is in a similar terminal decline. I have a couple of PDAs that I regularly use and was thinking about buying a newer model to replace one of them. While browsing a couple of the more popular online retailers’ web sites it quickly became apparent that the dedicated PDA is all but dead.

As an example: one retailer lists 37 products under ‘PDA’ of which 36 are actually smartphones and only one, the HP iPAQ 214, is a dedicated PDA.

When I bought my last PDA, about five years ago, everyone was talking about the convergence of PDAs, phones, and GPS. Like many people, I had at least one of each back then and spent a lot of time trying to connect them with each other. Convergence was a distant nirvana but it seems that we got there sooner than many of us anticipated.

What surprised me in both of these examples though was the fact that the passing of these devices has gone largely unnoticed. While new types of devices are always heralded by the the manufacturers and retailers, the old ones just slowly and quietly fade away and die.

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Written by Sea Monkey

December 30, 2009 at 8:00 am

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