PDAs still feel more futuristic than smartphones

April 6, 2024

I’ve been thinking about PDAs for quite some time. Even though I’ve never owned one, I have fond memories of strolling through the local electronics store and seeing them on display.

To me these devices have always kind of felt futuristic and ahead of their time compared to what was on the market during the early 2000s. I even remember thinking to myself: “when I grow up, I want to own one of those”.

PDAs or Personal Digital Assistants arrived at a time when the world was still getting used to the idea of a “full-blown computer” in your pocket, and something about that just felt kind of magical.

I do wonder, what’s the type of device that makes the current younger generation feel the same way?

PDAs vs smartphones

Palm PDA

Honestly, I miss those niche and geeky devices. They had a clear but also naively futuristic vision of what they wanted to be. Even though they only appealed to a relatively small audience.

Sure, our current smartphones do a thousand things better than a PDA ever could. But there’s a lot of charm in a device that only does one thing, and does it well.

This is probably what appeals to me the most. I miss the simplicity of a PDA, and when major companies were still trying to figure out what the future of mobile computing would look like. But yeah, I do realize that’s probably just nostalgia talking and maybe the future is already here.

The future of mobile computing

Innovation in the mobile computing space has slowed down significantly over the last ten years, but there are still some interesting things happening every now and then.

For example: I love to see the innovation happening in smaller companies such as: Remarkable, Humane, Rabbit and Steamdeck, no matter the backlash they might receive.

They’re not focussed on trying to build the next big thing, but rather on building the best thing for a very specific audience. I strongly believe that’s how you build a sustainable business in the long run, and even how large companies such as Apple were able to grow to the size they are today.

If you build something your customers truly love, they’ll keep coming back for more and they’ll let everyone know about it.