Dear PDA/Cellphone manufacturers…

… I am very dissatisfied with your past and present offerings and I am not inclined to buy them. Please sell me a device that meets the following requirements. Do a really good job, and I’m willing to pay perhaps as much as $500 for it.

Billing: Must have a pay-as-you-go plan. I do not make many calls, so a flat monthly rate looks like gouging rather than convenience to me. I also want data to be pay-as-you-go. 0.1 cents per megabyte (no rounding) sounds fair.

Connectivity: Whether it be USB, BlueTooth or wireless Ethernet, my Windows and Linux computers must be able to see the device as an external storage drive without the need for any proprietary drivers or special transfer software.

Customizable: Give me the tools to develop my own programs to run on the thing, without having to jump through any certification hoops. Ideally, make it easy for people to port existing apps over; the killer portable app for me would be a PHP or C# front end to a MySql database stored locally on the device. Text file reading and editing is also a must.

Interface: There’s a lot to be said for a large multi-touch screen like the iPhone has, but slide-out keyboards are also acceptable as long as there is something like a D-pad to use for pointing and selecting. If the device has a USB port, support hooking up a PC keyboard and mouse.

Media: Removable memory cards (Micro SD!) are a plus but not absolutely required so long as there is lots of internal storage.

Organization: Let me organize the data I put on the device as I see fit, using a metaphor I’m familiar with: directory trees. If the device needs “special” locations to store data it produces such as photos or GPS logs, provide a place for me to configure the paths for those. Note: I don’t necessarily need to DO organization of my data WITH the device – no need to provide something like Windows Explorer onboard – just let me to use Windows Explorer on my PC to organize the data on the device.

Privacy: You may track the minimum required for billing: phone numbers called, time of call, length of call, number of bytes sent and received. You can also store voicemail and text messages for me until I delete them. Beyond that, any information stored about me and accessible to anyone other than myself must be on a strictly opt-in and disclosed basis. You have no control over the data or apps I place on the device. Provide an external reformat/reinstall tool in case I mess things up unrecoverably.

I feel sure you’ll agree this is all technically feasible right now and also entirely reasonable. Please deliver it at once.

EDIT: Lowered the fair price for data after it was pointed out to me that there are a couple of killer apps (Google Earth) that use a lot of bandwidth. Also worth mentioning that a data plan doesn’t have to mean cellular bandwidth – could be standard wireless instead.