When reading the comments disputing the possible end of the voice-phone era I’m reminded of similar comments disputing the end of the PDA era.
Although the Apple Newton pioneered the market in 1992 and John Sculley came up with the acronym, the Newton did not sell in significant volumes. It wasn’t until 1997 with the Palm Pilot that the PDA market took off. Microsoft quickly followed with a licensed OS based on Windows CE. In 2001 Microsoft launched the Pocket PC brand to cement its attack on the PDA market. The first phones using a Microsoft OS were using something called Pocket PC Phone Edition. The first Nokia smartphones (Communicators) were built like mobile PDAs.
The logic was quite compelling. The original PDA was built to mobilize contacts, calendars and notes. They replaced bulky paper organizers and seamlessly synced to PC productivity software like Outlook. It was a compelling product in the US where small business customers needed to keep track of hundreds of contacts. Users could even ‘beam’ contacts to each other via infrared. The idea of adding a phone function to the device made sense insofar as contacts could be immediately dialed from the contact app rather than typed into another device’s phone keypad.
By the early 2000′s PDAs were forecast to sell by the hundreds of millions.