Is it time to get rid of your PDA? Apparently yes, according to General Motors, writes Ephraim Schwartz in InfoWorld.
The subtitle of this story is pretty clear: "GPS, Java, and push-to-talk give smart phones a clear edge over PDAs."
General Motors announced last week that it will partner with wireless carrier Nextel to use Nextelís Motorola cell phones with data capabilities to market a field-force management application to its commercial truck fleet customers. The announcement casts a shadow over the future of handheld devices in the business marketplace.
By selecting a cellular phone, GM in essence said no to Palm, HP, and Microsoft.
What are the reasons for this choice? First of all, people -- including many white-collar workers -- feel more comfortable with cell phones than with PDAs. But this is not the only reason.
The Nextel Motorola phones have a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) that runs J2ME (Java 2 Platform Micro Edition) applications, which can be downloaded and upgraded over the wireless network. In many respects, leveraging Java on the client with J2EE app servers on the back end makes handsets equal in capability to handhelds.
With Java and J2ME, a whole world of applications is appearing.
Ernie Cormeir, vice president of business solutions at Nextel in Reston, Va., tells me that there are Java clients for PeopleSoft and that Siebel CRM apps run over Nextelís iDEN wireless network.
Minneapolis-based GearWorks, the field-force application software developer selected by GM for its commercial fleet division offering also makes the same field-force application, called etrace, for handhelds. However, Keith Lauver, GearWorks CEO, obviously believes that Java-based business applications on cell phones are the better choice.
And of course, cell phones are cheaper than handhelds, both to purchase and to maintain.
For more information about Nextelís iDEN, please read this FAQ.
Source: Ephraim Schwartz, InfoWorld, May 23, 2003
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