Peter Clarke’s article PDA fad is over makes a compelling reading.
The appeal of the decreasing form factor in consumer gadgets made it’s advent not too long ago and was quickly embraced by the “young-on the move-possess-latest-gizmo” crowd. Along with came the expectation of packing of multiple features leading the industry to be perpetually kept on a delicate balancing act of features vs. size. And in features selection too, you have yet another formidable task. In the beginning, there were multiple gadget categories (you have a camera, a phone, an electronic diary etc.). But now you have a varying mix with blurred demarcations. The question that props up in the consumer’s mind is : do I go for a PDA phone or a phone PDA ?? A Blackberry is great for keeping me in sync with my email messages and to enforce my presence in this 24/365 flat world scenario, but how efficient is it to help me in calling and receiving telephone calls ?
And thus enters a plethora of gadgets, each with a dominant set of features catering to a specific market segment. It is difficult, if not impossible, to cater to all the transient and ever growing consumer requirements, into a handheld gadget with a long battery life and…. just to make life simpler “get the product out ASAP in market windows which are shrinking almost in line with the semiconductor process technology”! and I have not yet touched on pricing.
And that is where lies one of the major challenges : anticipating and gauging the consumer’s interests and preferences, getting the right mix (like Coke’s secret formula, but then even they were forced to innovate to sustain the consumers’ changing tastes!) and a continuous innovation (rather spin-offs from a basic model to be cost effective).