Handheld and Portable Computing Devices

Handheld and Portable Computing Devices

Handheld and Portable Computing Devices


What is a Handheld? What isn’t (necessarily)?

Handhelds are roughly defined as small handheld computing devices that weigh less than 2lbs, fit in the hand, and has a UI that enables inputing data. Often, but not necessarily, these devices fit in a pocket, can access the internet, and utilize a touchscreen or miniature keyboard interface.

Handheld History

It all started with a calculator in the 1970s, but Handhelds didn’t begin to take off until 1996, with the introduction of the Palm Pilot, gaining steam with the introduction of the BlackBerry in 1999, and truly becoming mainstream with the introduction of the iPhone and iOS in 2007, and Android in 2008.

Current Trends in the Market/What it all means

Smartphones and tablets continue to influence the design and user experience of PC’s, notably, iOS has heavily influence Apple’s OS X Mavericks and, most recently, OS X Yosemite. Similarly, the line between notebook computers and tablets has become more and more blurred – seen in the Microsoft Surface, for example. The technology that enables Handhelds is becoming more and more commonplace, and users are demanding more integration between devices – in the Healthcare industry, for example, Handhelds enable access to patient records and vitals in record time, providing a new tool for medical professionals

Macintosh HD Users jebberg Desktop sddsd jpgEducators are beginning to recognize the power of Handhelds in capturing the attention of children, particularly those with developmental or cognitive disabilities while also providing dramatic cost savings for institutions of learning. In Los Angeles in 2013, for example, a classroom was able to replace a $15,000 piece of equipment with a single iPad, enabling a student to communicate with just one finger. Rapid adoption of Handheld computing technology enables many of the other ubiquitous technologies present in today’s business landscape – increasingly, employees check their emails via smartphones, finalize presentations on their tablets and, conduct meetings via skype or go to meeting on a Handheld device. This creates opportunities and challenges for managers, who must walk the line between benefit and cost, as the connectivity present in many handhelds can be a drain on productivity and attention. Finally, handhelds can be unreliable. Battery life is crucial for handhelds to add value, and over time, battery life of current generation lithium ion cells degrades – potentially leaving a salesman in a bind right before a presentation, or teacher without the use of a needed speech aid during class, or a doctor without a needed tool during an emergency.

Moving Forward

The Handheld market continues to become crowded – competition between Android devices and those made by Apple, inc. and Microsoft is fierce. Consumers continue to adopt Handhelds in greater numbers – According to the Pew Institute, as of January 2014, 58% of American Adults used a smartphone and 42% owned a tablet computer. Handhelds are increasingly common in the workplace, and will become more commonplace as generations shift within the American workforce – access to information from anywhere has become the norm, and employers and employees alike expect to be connected.