Columnist cautions Apple on PDA foray

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It seems like the industry is always abuzz with some rumor or another that Apple is going to get back into the PDA market -- the latest ones suggest that Apple is considering an acquisition of Palm Inc. BusinessWeek columnist Charles Haddad's advice to Apple CEO Steve Jobs is to keep his checkbook sheathed. Haddad's comments come in a new "Byte of the Apple" column entitled Steve, Don't Give Palm a Hand.

Palm's problems somewhat mirror what Apple has gone through, according to Haddad. Although a Palm OS licensing strategy has helped to keep Microsoft's Windows CE operating system at bay, the columnist claims that licensees like Handspring have also eaten into Palm's own market, much in the same way that Apple's clone makers ate into its market rather than expanding it.

Haddad suggests that handheld PDAs are here for good, but for now it's a commodity market where price is the main issue. "This is ground that Apple -- an innovator -- must avoid at all costs," said Haddad.

Apple still has an important job -- Haddad said that as PDAs become more feature-heavy and complicated, they're becoming more difficult to synchronize and use. "Someone has to straighten out this growing tangle of connectivity and file sharing between personal computers and their little brethren," said Haddad.

Perhaps, suggested Haddad, Apple should focus on making "iHand" software to help extend Apple's "digital hub" concept to PDAs as well. "Still, I'd bet my aging Power Computing Mac clone that Apple is working right now on some kind of hub software for handhelds," said Haddad. "Any takers?"

This story, "Columnist cautions Apple on PDA foray" was originally published by PCWorld.

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