So last week, I was talking about the 'perceived' new HP Handheld. The actual 4100 and 4300 series models are a lot different than the one I saw a 'sneak preview' video of, but nevertheless, the 4350 does include a mini-qwerty keyboard. This is probably one of many such devices recently introduced or to be introduced just before the holiday buying season begins.
This is a major shift for several reasons. IMHO, the early PDA designers felt that the PDA was more of a device for reading and making small modifications to data that you normally entered and managed on your pc. Therefore, they felt that people would learn how to write for and adapt to handwriting recognition systems. Ultimately, with the rise of the BlackBerry - a device designed for e-mail, and with the rise in wireless technologies, their speed and availability (i.e. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G), it became evident that mobile workers were becoming more and more reliant on their PDA as primary sources of date entry for their use in the field.
And so, the industry is adapting. My guess is that soon we will see corporations beggining to shun the BlackBerry in lieu of devices running PalmOS 5, and Windows Mobile software. Those tools, coupled with Wi-fi or 3G access to data and third party over-the-air sync software will out-BlackBerry RIM on the e-mail front, and also provide so many other feature as well - such as better web-browsing, messenging software, more access option (such as combined Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled devices) and better throughput.
Handspring has released its revolutionary new Treo 600 to rave reviews so far, and to spearhead this trend, they are partnering with Good Technology, a blackberry competitor, to offer BlackBerry-style e-mail services along with the new device. Will it be the elusive BlackBerry killer? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I will wait for that iPaq that I saw in the spy pic :)