SJ, Can You Please Bring Back the Apple PDA?

by Chris Howard Dec 20, 2006

Dear Santa Jobs,

I know it’s too late for this Christmas, but for next Christmas can you please get you elves working on producing an Apple PDA? It doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles of a full OS like the PocketPCs, just something more in line with the Palm. I don’t need a handheld computer, I just want a personal digital assistant (PDA).

Truth is, I’ve actually got one. A lovely Palm Zire 72S. A great device. Until it talks to computers. Having worked in IT support for many years, I’ve had to look after many users of PDAs and PocketPCs, albeit, in Windows environments. The Zire is my first experience of using a PDA with a Mac. Much to my surprise, the experience on the Mac is the same as on Windows. Painful. Hangs, reboots, duplicated records, and lost connections.

When you build the whole caboodle - well, your elves at Apple - things just work. There’s rarely the problems like reboots and hangs.

I’ve tried various synchronization applications and they’ve all resulted in hair removal. And as I say, this is not a Mac problem, it happens on PCs too. The difference is, Macs don’t have these types of problems at any other times. Using a Palm with my Mac makes me feel like I’m using Windows.

Don’t believe all the nonsense about the PDA market crashing. PDAs are here to stay just as much as portable music players are. Man’s being carrying portable diaries ever since he put a notch in his hunting spear to remind him to pick up half a dozen Pteranodon eggs on the way back from the hunt.

I know you like the portable diary idea because you include some aspects of PDAs in the iPod. That’s one of the reasons I bought an iPod. Like the Neanderthal hunter, I could then carry my diary with me. Unlike him and his spear, I’m unable to add entries to the diary in my iPod.

I use my Palm constantly for reminders, contacts, making notes, and even writing down longer ideas.

PDAs are a brilliant and useful device, and according to latest figures, are still selling exceptionally well. Contrary to the nay sayers, they are a device that will never lose popularity anymore than computers will.

What is changing though is convergence. Although the single purpose PDA market is falling, it is more than being replaced by PDAs converged with phones.

The PDA is here for eternity because a lot of people like to carry their diaries with them as well as maintain them on the go. The digital age has replaced spears and paper diaries with the PDA.

So Santa Jobs, can you please revive the Newton? Converge it with the iPhone or iPod, or make it simply a PDA and nothing else. But whatever. The time is right to get back into that market.

Yours hopefully

Hopeful Down Under

PS And because PDAs are platform independent, you’d have access to the whole PDA market. That’ll buy you a lot of reindeer food…


  • Amen to that.

    hessi had this to say on Dec 20, 2006 Posts: 8
  • My christmas wish: 10 Ways a Spear is Better than an iPod.

    Benji had this to say on Dec 20, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Well, the Newton is a fully autonomous handheld computer and not “just a PDA” in the regular sense other than being truly assisting = helpful, it is a PDA in the true sense. *You* want just a digital datebook wink The Newton does not need to be connected to a stationary PC ever again once it is set up.

    Nothing to say about good Apple phone with good organizer that syncs well though, I’d buy it instantly. Anything sub-Newton / UMPC size is too small for real work anyway, but items at this size make veeeery good digital datebooks that go anywhere.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Dec 20, 2006 Posts: 371
  • There is a certain appeal to a merging of the iPod/MessagePad concepts. Take an iPod, make it a full screen on the front, increase the size of the screen to the MessagePad screen’s size, add pen input. Probably no hard disk - just 8GB of flash memory.

    iPod + MessagePad = iPad?.
    (Does it need to be the same screen size as the MessagePad?)

    The thing is… these days the mobile phone+data is key. So you add 3G data and wireless. Web+Dashboard apps. Video chat/phone? The device gets rather sophisticated very quickly. And it becomes difficult to work out where exactly Apple is targetting.

    Still.. if the iTablet rumours have any credence, I’m betting on the above iPad concept, rather than a MacBook without a keyboard.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Dec 21, 2006 Posts: 228
  • And even if Apple re-launch the iMate 300 with a USB2 and BT wireless connection, that would work for me certainly.

    I use my Palm Smartphone daily and agree with Chris 100% that it is a great device until you have to hook it up to sync the databases (of which it is based on vice file-based).

    C.H., I am on the same boat! My gut feeling though is the iPod will have a full-PDA capability sooner or later and not a separate, distinct line just to give us a PDA device. Like you mentioned, it is already halfway there.

    Robomac had this to say on Dec 21, 2006 Posts: 846
  • Hehehe, the eMate was / is a sweet little machine. Apple reps used to demo it by flinging it across the room and against the wall - it would still look & work fine.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Dec 21, 2006 Posts: 371
  • I have an HP iPaq.  It sits in the car and pretends to be a GPS navigation tool.  It is not a good platform for GPS navigation (it runs Copilot): It gets hot and stops working,  If I forget to take it out of the car, the battery goes flat requiring a CoPilot reinstall and activation key re-entry (impossible to do without connecting to a PC - which is kind of awkward when you are lost in the middle of the Loire Valley…)  It is the CLUMSIEST phone I have ever used - I went back to my old falling-apart Nokia.  It doesn’t synch to anything useful on my Mac.  It is slow.  And there are holes in the user interface - Sometimes when you think you should be able to cut and paste (particularly a phone number) you just can’t…

    It is a constant reminder to me just how off the track Microsoft is.  It’s a mess.  I had a Palm once before which was nice to use, but wouldn’t synch with anything reliably…

    There are SO MANY opportunities for Apple’s approach to information technology - the trick for Apple is to know where best to spend their R&D dollars.  So far they seem to be getting it right…

    And I think a PDA is a long way down the list for Apple.  There is work to do on the Mac - an Apple alternative to Office (or bits of it); a major upgrade to the GUI for OS X server, which looks pretty but achieves nothing (you still have to resort to the horrible Unix command line for most things); a small form-factor Macbook Pro (rumoured for Macworld); More XServe configurations and better (any would be good) support from Apple for the Mac in a Windows environment (if they are serious about the corporate space).

    But, hey, you would be made not to look at ANYTHING coming out of Cupertino…  So if an Apple PDA makes an appearance…

    sydneystephen had this to say on Dec 22, 2006 Posts: 124
  • I often use the calendar, alarms, etc. in my iPod, but occasionally I wish I could add things when away from my Mac. It’s pretty rare though, and I can honestly live without it indefinitely, but that said, I’d certainly upgrade to a larger-screen iPod with PDA functionality built-in if they offered it.

    Big E had this to say on Dec 23, 2006 Posts: 7
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