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The changing face of ultra-mobile converged devices

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When it comes to ultra-mobile devices, corporate buying patterns have changed over the past year. Apart from this finally giving the channel a firm indication of what customers are really looking for in a converged device, Jason McMillan, HP business unit manager at Tarsus Technologies says the vendors are responding quickly.

"Where the market was previously content with PDAs that had cellular phone functionality or cellular phones with some PDA functionality, today the demand is for full-blown converged devices," McMillan says.
"The problem in delivering on this need for complete convergence previously, however, was that the vendors were playing catch-up.
"A few years ago, the converged devices were rather bulky and the functionality they delivered was cumbersome," he says. "Common gripes from users included the fact that some of the business-critical features they relied on were difficult to navigate and that applications were prone to crashes and slow performance."
"However, with HP's new range of converged devices, all of that has changed," he adds.
"For example, HP was one of the first vendors following Blackberry to offer a converged device that featured push e-mail, but a vital component, namely HSDPA connectivity, was missing."
"Instead of simply adding this feature into the device and renaming it, HP opted to wait until battery technology had evolved sufficiently to enable decent user experience. That decision has made a big difference," he says.
The result is a range of converged devices that offers high-speed connectivity, business applications like push e-mail and which is available in a miniscule footprint.
On a similar note, McMillan says that vendor's previous implementations of GPS functionality in handsets were not up to scratch.
"With GPS becoming one of the killer applications for converged devices, software needed updating and the maps present on these devices had to be substantially improved," he adds.
"GPS has been so well addressed today, that there's literally no reason for users to buy separate devices – at least 90% of the street information for Southern Africa has been added into the mix and users can now navigate to street number level reliably."
With its converged devices, HP is aiming to get to a place where people can be connected wherever they are and where they can access all of the features they deem to be important, easily and reliably.
The company has therefore made a decision to move away form the consumer space and leave this up to the conventional cellular phone handset manufacturers.
"Over the coming months the market can expect devices designed expressly for the enterprise (with larger 5.5" displays) and new platforms that suit industrial applications like sales force automation, warehousing and the FMCG space.
"Going forward, I believe HP will be very successful in this endeavour," he says.