Monday, August 04, 2008

Convergent Handheld PDAs & Garmin

I have written several blog articles over the past couple of years on the concept of "convergent" handheld computers and PDAs. My definition of a convergent device is a handheld computer or PDA that combines many different features such as:
  • Mobile phone
  • Music player and mass storage
  • Digital camera/video camera
  • GPS and navigation
  • Internet connectivity
  • Powerful operating system that can run powerful business applications (windows mobile or equivalent)
  • Audio memos
  • etc

The convergence of these features in one mobile handheld device provide the mobile worker/field services worker the capabilities of automating and mobilizing many of their business processes and applications without carrying multiple devices.

Garmin, a long time satellite-navigation device company, seems to just be absorbing this concept. As printed in the Wall Street Journal's on Saturday, August 2, 2008 - Garmin has been planning, but is now delaying the launch of their mobile phone and gps navigation device until the first half of 2009. It does not seem to include many of the features listed above, but does combine the mobile phone with GPS/Navigation. My question, like the Wall Street Journal's, is why now? Where were they when they owned the GPS/Navigation market? Did they completely miss this concept in 2006, 2007 and 2008 when the iPhone was introduced? Did they really think people would want to carry multiple devices around?

- Kevin Benedict