They may be little, but there's a big market out there for PDAs. As more and more companies scramble for a slice of the handheld computer pie, some of the existing players are finding their plates empty.
Motorola announced at the end of last year that it was withdrawing from the market completely. This was a little humiliating for the company that made such a fanfare about its entry into the market a mere two years earlier.
The Envoy and the Marco, which never even went on sale in the UK, sold fewer than 50,000 units between them.
Mike McGuire, an analyst at Dataquest in the US, said: 'The reasons for Motorola pulling out are really quite simple: lack of unit shipments because of a muddled marketing message. The Envoy and Marco were showcases for Motorola's wireless network. But the bottom line is that the development costs of these types of products were just too high, given the low unit sales.'
Motorola really should have known better. As one of the world's largest mobile phone manufacturers, it should have seen that there was more opportunity in making phones with PDA functions, than PDAs alone. Nokia is leading the way in this market, with its much-lauded 9000 phone/PDA combo.
Motorola also made a mistake in going it alone with its proprietary operating system. Companies now entering the PDA market are doing so with Microsoft's new Windows CE operating system. After withdrawing from the PDA market, however, Motorola announced an agreement with Microsoft to enable Windows CE to run on PowerPC chips.
In September, Corel said it would leap into hardware manufacturing with a PDA running on Java as a way of promoting its Java version of Perfect Office. But in December, the company abandoned its plans, saying the PDA project was indefinitely on hold.
One of the reasons for this is that the company has another Java plan: it is making what it calls a Video Network Computer as well. All this may sound strange, but Corel's chief executive, Briton Michael Cowpland, is extremely good at making money. So if he says it's a sensible thing to do, it probably is.
The coming year is likely to see more upheavals in the PDA market. With new players, such as Microsoft, Compaq, Casio and NEC, breaking on to the scene, and old ones leaving the party, the shake-out has already begun.
Perhaps by the end of this year, more names will be added to the list of failed players.
Insecticides based on sulfoxaflor might be as bad for bees as neonicotinoids
Intel teases forthcoming new graphics card accompanied by the text "We will set our graphics free"
Think your password manager is completely secure? Think again...
ARM plans 7nm 'Deimos' for 2019 and 5nm and 7nm 'Hercules' for 2020