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Report: More want less in a handheld

Bucking recent trends in portable devices that include Web access and camera-enabled mobile phones, a study finds that more people are opting for simplicity.

Less is more when it comes to handheld devices, a report by Jupiter Research has found.

According to the study, released Tuesday, consumers and business users are more apt to use handhelds that offer voice and personal information management (PIM) capabilities-?or a combination of the two--rather than devices that also include a host of other integrated functions.

"Too many features are being integrated into the devices, at the expense of the sum being less than all of its parts," said Michael Gartenberg, Jupiter vice president and research director.

"The manufacturers aren't asking users the right questions," he said. "They're asking people if they want just one device instead of three--and of course people say yes. What they're not asking is, how many devices are you willing to carry? We found people are usually willing to carry three."

Jupiter studied consumer demand for functionality and the number of devices people are willing to carry. Then, the research firm compared the results against manufacturers' strategies behind creating multifunction devices.

The report found that people are more likely to stock up on portable devices as the size of the handhelds and the complexity of using them decrease.

"People aren't really interested in video clips on their phone or portable media storage, but PIM makes sense to them" Gartenberg said. "As long as all their devices can communicate with each other and work together, then they're willing to own several devices."

Indeed, mobile phone makers are increasingly adding organizer functionality, while manufacturers of personal digital assistant are adding phone capabilities.

According to research firm IDC, the converged mobile market is expected to grow 86 percent over the next four years on an annual rate. The Jupiter report, however, says that the number of PDA users in the United States will only grow 43 percent to 20 million over the next five years.