While the name PDA (an acronym for Personal Digital Assistant) conjures up the iconic Palm Pilot for most people, in reality it covers a very broad range of devices and technology. In fact, PDAs have become so advanced and feature-rich that the manufacturers themselves rarely refer to them as PDAs, opting instead for broader labels such as “handheld computers”, “smartphones” and “converged devices”. Indeed, today’s PDAs often bear only a passing resemblance to those that first populated the market over a decade ago.
To most people, Palm is the original creator of the PDA, having introduced the groundbreaking Pilot and Palm Pilot devices over a decade ago. And while technically there were devices that preceded them, it was the innovating styling and simple interface of these first Palm offerings that made the PDA a mainstream technology.
Windows Mobile has gone through a number of evolutions since its introduction, and with them a series of name changes. Early users of this platform still often refer to it as Windows CE or Pocket PC, even though Microsoft no longer uses this branding.
Although relatively new to the healthcare space, BlackBerry devices have a long and successful history in other markets by virtue of their exceptional ability to manage email. While other operating systems focused on unconnected devices and third-party software support, Blackberry gained a legion of loyal customers by focusing on efficiently pushing email wirelessly to their devices.
While the name Symbian may be unfamiliar to many in North America, the operating system is widely used for handheld device overseas and powers many of the cellular telephones used domestically from Nokia, Ericsson, Sony, Panasonic, Siemens AG, and Samsung.
After a fairly lengthy absence following the death of the Apple Newton, Apple has returned to the handheld space in force with the introduction of the iPhone. The innovative features and elegant design of the iPhone have made it one of the most talked about new product introductions in recent memory.