Motorola is quitting the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) market from the end of the year, having thrown tens of millions of dollars at the technology.
The company currently manufactures two PDA models, the Marco and the Envoy. However, the company has sold fewer than 50,000 devices since they were launched in the US just under two years ago. The products were due to be rolled out in Europe, but never were. Both products sell for around $1,000 (#625) each.
"Originally, we thought PDAs would be sold like PCs, but we realised about a year after launch that the wireless data communication technology was too new for many consumers," said Randall Battat, general manager of Motorola's wireless data group.
One of the problems Motorola encountered selling PDAs was that the market was squeezed at the higher end by notebooks and at the lower end by mobile phones, which increasingly are being equipped with messaging and Email functionality. Motorola will now be focusing its development efforts on phones. Motorola will also redesign its PDA technology to offer similar functionality in a card that can be slotted into phones or laptops, or other manufacturers' PDAs.
Graham Taylor, senior vice president at research company Inteco, said Motorola had fallen victim to the difficulties besetting the PDA market in general. "The whole industry is in a tizzy," he said. "The Web has thrown everyone - for this reason, it may be that Java-enabled appliances are more attractive than those based on traditional operating systems."
Motorola is not the only company to have halted its PDA plans. Corel announced in late August that it was to manufacture a PDA with a Java OS to run its Java version of PerfectOffice. The company predicted it would ship one million of the devices by the middle of next year. But three months later these plans have been shelved in favour of a Video Network Computer. A decision on the future of the PDA project will follow in January.
Motorola: new deal with Apple
Only the day after announcing its departure from the PDA arena, Motorola signed an agreement with Microsoft for its Windows CE architecture for handheld devices to operate on Motorola's PowerPC processors. This will allow companies like Apple to make PDAs running on the Windows platform, and should help Motorola increase sales of the PowerPC chip.
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