A plain-Jane mobile phone doesn't cut it anymore. Smartphones, those hybrid PDA/ phone devices, are in a sales upswing. They're especially favored by on-the-go entrepreneurs and their mobile employees because they reduce the amount of hardware to be hauled around and provide Internet access.
It's easy to get sticker shock, though, from the $400-plus price tags on many smartphones. Of course, you're getting a phone, a PDA and mobile e-mail, and your smartphone can even stand in for a laptop on some trips. Some smartphones are filling specific niches. Sprint, for example, has addressed the security concerns raised by having phones with digital cameras roaming freely about offices. It offers a version of the Treo 600 smartphone that's camera-free (cost: about $600, street price) per device.
Growing interest in smartphones and the convenience they bring comes at a time when interest is waning in stand-alone PDAs. If you use PDAs and cell phones in your business, it may make sense to combine the devices during your next upgrade cycle. Don't forget to add in the costs of ongoing services like mobile e-mail as well as training so employees make full use of smartphone capabilities.