Digital Imaging and PDAs: An opportunity for resellers?

The digital imaging and handheld computing industries are maturing quickly. As this occurs, the two technologies are merging. The result of this merger is a personal digital assistant (PDA) with the built-in ability to take digital photographs. The Canadian market has witnessed digital photography

capabilities integrated with both Sony and Palm handheld PC units, via the Palm Operating System (Palm OS). The unification of the two technologies is not widespread, but these specialty products do offer consumers the unique ability to manage personal interest files while taking and storing digital photographs.

Simultaneously occurring within the Canadian market is the IT reseller’s continual search for increased business opportunities. Due to the size of corporate segments, resellers tend to focus on commercial business opportunities. With moderate IT spending occurring within corporate markets, the consumer segment might be one of the key areas of focus for the reseller. According to a recent ERC study, six per cent of reseller IT business is targeted to the consumer market. As corporate spending plateaus, a phenomenon the industry has been experiencing for the past two years; resellers can turn to product and technological innovations in the consumer market. In the same survey, 22 per cent of respondents claimed that one of the major initiatives for business growth was targeting new business opportunities. Twenty-one percent claimed that these targets were effective. As the consumer’s thoughts turn to the summer and the coinciding vacation season, the opportunity for resellers to target consumers with digital imaging and PDA devices expands. Expanding customer bases through the consumer market is a key opportunity for growth in the summer months.

Looking at Palm’s Zire 71 handheld unit, the successful combination of digital photography and PDA features are evident. The Zire 71’s capabilities include a selection of digital image resolutions, from 640×480 pixels (VGA or high resolution), 320×240 pixels (medium), and 160×120 pixels (low). PDA capabilities include storing information such as telephone numbers and addresses, combined with note taking abilities. With 16MB of memory, uses also include music (MP3), video and audio book storing. With an average retail price of approximately $450, the Zire 71 can be an attractive device for the young professional. The cross-functional usage of digital photography with PDA elements is an attractive one to those with buying power. Young professionals, with disposable incomes would be ideal adopters of this technology.

With a suggested retail price just pennies short of $800, Sony’s PEGNX70V Clie handheld device includes similar functions as the Zire 71, including a digital camera, MP3 player and a digital voice recorder. Indicative of the price point, Sony markets this product as a high-end executive tool, which would be ideal for a slightly older consumer than that of the Zire 71. The camera resolution currently sits at 640 x 480 pixels, or a VGA standard. For expansion purposes, the PEG-NX70V can be equipped with an optional wireless local area networking (802.11b LAN) card. The 802.11b card expands the Clie’s capabilities to include web browsing, email management and PC data synchronization via a wireless area network. The networking features enable versatility and cross functionality between the home, home-office and business environments.

In the continual search for new business, the PDA segment offers unique opportunities for the consumer segment. The combination of digital photography and personal organization features in one device opens up an opportunity for resellers to target the consumer market. Resellers can use handheld products, such as the Zire 71 or the PEGNX70V Clie to penetrate or expand business opportunities within this previously untapped market.

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