PDA’s are not extinct yet. Smartphones have basically taken over handheld devices but the PDA still has applications for the work environment. Many businesses still prefer PDA’s to smartphones or tables today due to their simplistic nature and use. Business owners are finding smartphones and tablets give their employers a little too much freedom.
Before smartphones became the norm PDAs were a bit more pricey then they are today. Now that smartphones and tablets are around business owners have choices. Finacially PDAs tend to be a more responsible choice for small to medium sized businesses. Most carriers of smartphones and tablets require the purchase of a voice plan. This is extra money small businesses might not need to spend. For example: a PDA costs around $300 and you can find a smartphone for $99. The initial price sounds appealing for the smartphone, however, the smartphone comes with a $40 a month data/voice service plan. You quickly find that smartphones surpass the cost of a PDA.
Connectivity is different between smartphones and PDAs. Smartphones connect to the Internet via the cellular network while PD’s cannot connect to a cellular network. There are other ways to connect to the Internet that both PDAs and smartphones have the ability to do. One way is via Wi-Fi. With a Wi-Fi enabled PDA surfing the Internet becomes possible. Bluetooth is another way both devices can connect yet with a much slower speed than the Wi-Fi connection.
One of the biggest differences between PDA’s and smartphones are their providers. PDAs are not carrier specific as smartphones are. Once you outfit your company with smartphones your carrier is set in stone. Switching carriers is costly and time consuming. With a PDA, changing wireless providers is not an issue.
When a company chooses to automate with smartphones they are most likely exchanging benefits. PDAs, for example, usually offer larger screens which is an advantage to those wanting to read spreadsheets or other types of documents without having to scroll is all directions. Another benefit of a PDA to consider is they are virtually damage proof and only a fraction of data is stored on the device, whereas, with a smartphone you may loose or have damaged data more frequently. For the smartphone, a benefit would be the availability of phone numbers and easier communication between departments.
Both PDAs and smartphones use 3rd party add-on software and need to be programmed for each business. In the end it is all about choice. No single device will fit every need and so what will determine a businesses choice will boil down to is the financial coupled with functionality.