The Evolution of the PDA to Smartphone Has Transformed Our Lifestyles

Everywhere I go, I see someone with a smartphone. A little over a decade ago, cell phones were just getting smaller in size, and working their way from boardrooms to households. PDAs were also transitioning from executives’ briefcases to housewives’ purses. Then suddenly they collided into the current “must have” device.

I’ve always been a gadget freak. I remember when I was younger seeing people carrying a Casio B.O.S.S. or an Apple Newton and thinking they were cool, but I didn’t have a need for one myself. Back in the late 1990’s the Palm Pilot was all the buzz. Palm took over the market of handheld devices. I received a monochrome m130. I used it for a while, and quickly grew bored with it. A few years later I got a Zire 71. I was captivated by it. It had a color screen, I could convert videos I recorded on my then PC to watch on it, as well as listen to music, view photos, and wait for it…slide the device to expose a still camera. My non-techie friends were amazed with all that I could do with a PDA.

When the Zire 72 came out, I was blessed with it as an upgrade. That model offered video too! But soon, manufacturers started pulling out of the PDA market and transformed to smartphones. Then things got interesting.

At this point, there were many smartphones available, but Apple shook things up with the iPhone. Many were in awe of it, but I was disappointed. Why? It didn’t have nearly as many apps as my PDA. My Palm allowed me to get the latest news via AvantGo, I had games galore, travel guides, audiobooks and more. A year later, Apple opened the App Store. I started downloading apps before I even had a device. I collected the free ones first just to see if they could match what I had on my Zire 72. Once those third party apps surpassed what I had, it was time to make a move.

Just like the Razor’s stylish appearance made it a phenomenon (was I the ONLY one who didn’t have one?), Apple made smartphones sexy. Their design, technology and user interface wowed the masses, and had other manufacturers scrambling to pick up the pace. Google stepped up with the G1, Palm has the Prē, and of course there is the mighty Blackberry. There are so many smartphones on the market representing most major providers, that there’s a choice for everyone. Many have piggybacked Apple’s design, and some have a touchscreen. PDAs combined with phones have appealed to the general population, from tweens to seniors. What was once a convenient gadget for business people and geeks, has now transformed into an everyday item like DVD players.

Today, cell phones with an operating system have more capabilities than home computers of the 1980s. Combining the internet, e-mail, (virtual) keyboard, camera, and SMS along with third party apps and a phone, has made these mobile devices a juggernaut, and has become an icon of popular culture. They’re not just toys for geeks; they become a necessity for some. The bonus is, they start up quickly as opposed to the other portable rival, the laptop. If you leave one on your night table before you go to sleep, when you wake up in the morning, you have everything you need at your fingertips, except for breakfast in bed. You can look up the weather, read breaking news, check your-mails, view closing markets on the opposite side of the world, inspire followers on Twitter, and update your Facebook status, all while listening to your favorite music. Instant gratification has been snowballing since the 1980s, and smartphones are the poster children for this concept, since they can satisfy many request in seconds. I tell my friends, it’s like waking up in the morning, and having a personal staff member (I call mine James), bring you the mail, various newspapers, and turn on music. You basically have a butler you can store in your pocket! Oh James! About breakfast… Hey, is there an app for that?

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2 Responses to “The Evolution of the PDA to Smartphone Has Transformed Our Lifestyles”

  1. So which SmartPhone/PDA are you? If it were on the Verizon Wireless network I would have an iPhone. I’m waiting until Q1 2011 to see if Apple releases a LTE iPhone – which would work on AT&T or Verizon Wireless.

    In the mean time I plan on buying an iPad. Sometimes I use the iMac for blogging, photography etc and sometimes I use the MacBook but for most of what I do (reading, social networking, email, web ) I use my iPod Touch. The bigger screen of the iPad makes it an instant win for me and a great computer for my mom.

    • shutterbuggeek Says:

      Khürt, in an ideal world, iPhone would be partnered with Verizon…with FULL capabilities. Rumors have been circulating about the alliance, and I’ve been optimistic, but if I look at what Verizon did to bluetooth, I’m wondering how the iPhone will be stripped so they can promote V-Cast. I am a Verizon customer, and I won’t switch over to AT&T which is holding me back from buying the iPhone. I too use an iPod Touch, which is stripped of some of the phone’s features. I’m being patient to see how this all plays out.

      Funny, I was thinking of buying an iPad for my mother. I just wish it would support Flash!

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