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Ed Hansberry
03-01-2002, 12:33 AM
<a href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nf/20020228/tc_nf/16550">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nf/20020228/tc_nf/16550</a><br /><br />"Is Palm the Next Netscape?" This doesn't take a fine tuned crystal ball to see where this is going. PalmOS had well over 80% market share just a few short years ago and the Palm-Sized PC was the laughingstock of the PDA world. The problem is people wrote off MS because the UI was wrong. They weren't paying any attention to what was right with the devices. Multitasking, easy to understand file system, application compatibility with desktop PC's, multimedia, color screens, etc. Next step - April 19, 2000 - Pocket PC's launch. In under 24 months, the Pocket PC market share jumped to 22% while PalmOS dropped to 57% while the rest of the market was flooded with dozens of different and non-compatible devices including many proprietary devices in China.<br /><br />Palm is fighting back to be sure, but OS 5 isn't it folks. Every time a question came up about OS5 in every article I've read about PalmSource 2002, the answer was basically "well, the hooks are there but it will really be the <i>next</i> OS revision that brings that to the platform." So, we are looking at 2003 or 2004. Most consider OS5 an ported OS4 to ARM, at least that is what the user will experience even if the developers will see some of those "hooks." Well, as the article above puts it - "But OS 5 may not be big enough to keep Microsoft boxed in. 'I'm not so sure that this effort's going to completely help them repel Microsoft.'"<br /><br />Now, the battle isn't over by any means. MS is not the de facto winner anymore than Palm is the de facto loser. Both platforms have strengths, yet Microsoft is best when they are in 2nd place. Pocket PC 2000 was only the beginning. MS is developing the Pocket PC at a fast pace. There were more changes and updates to Pocket PC 2002 than Palm has done since 1996, and it isn't because the Pocket PC 2000 OS was missing so much. In 2000 when the original PPC was launched, VPN's were not as common, wireless was not as common, DRM5 in Reader didn't exist, etc. Sure, there were fixes, but that is what goes on with updates. Look at Palm's update notes. Other than vibrating alarms and 2-3 other things, OS4 is nothing but a 3.5 bug fix, and none if it is really 2 versions ahead of the 4 year old OS2.<br /><br />Be assured that the Pocket PC team at Microsoft is diligently working on the next version of the Pocket PC. Issues like more wireless possibilities, security, user interaction, application compatibility, etc. All being looked over with a fine tooth comb. Microsoft has the advantage here because they are not playing catch-up with features, and because the Pocket PC has always been a fully 32bit OS, all of the compatibility issues Palm is having to contend with in OS5 are not nearly as much of a problem for Microsoft as they are for Palm. OS5 is Palm's transition OS, and that is a painful experience. Just look at Win95/98/ME.<br /><br />Microsoft also has a tighter control over the hardware specs. This is great news for developers. They know a speaker is there. They know the device is running 240X320. They know there is a Soft Input Panel. They know RTF libraries will be there to use. They know a powerful communication manager is there. Palm on the other hand is actually encouraging diversity. Maybe 160X160, maybe 320X320, maybe 240X320. Maybe there is a SIP, maybe not. Might have a microphone. Might not. Speaker? Your guess is as good as mine. This causes more work for developers as they have to contend with so many possibilities.<br /><br />Then there is the financial situation. When you look at Palm's financial statements from the day they went public in 2000 through today, they have lost millions of dollars. Their cash reserve is very low and they keep burning millions every month. The question is, not can they turn the company around, because I don't think they are too far gone to turn it around, but can they turn it around fast enough? Before their bank account looks like my checking account, they must get profitable and cash positive. Meanwhile, MS keeps raising the bar. Terminal Server support, network file share access, SmartPhone, etc. If Palm looks in their rear view mirror, there is a huge Mack truck bearing down on them, and the letters on the mirror read "Objects are even larger than they appear." Palm had better find that long skinny pedal on the right and apply significant pressure, or become roadkill.

03-01-2002, 01:31 AM
It's not that difficult. Look at Wordperfect, Netscape, Borland, OS/2, Novell. All the same story. All good products.

And now they're after Palm. And smartphones.
Mark my words, Palm is going to lose this battle bigtime.

You have to admit, Bill Gates knows how to do business.

03-01-2002, 01:43 AM
Oh yes... That was well put. Finally someone is thinking how I think towards he Palm.

And yes... Monopply or not... There is not one company in the world that would not sell their souls to have the power, marketshare, and cash that MS has. Bill Gates truly knows how to do business.

Andy Sjostrom
03-01-2002, 07:23 AM
Right on, Ed!
WE all know the outcome of current events. Just don't tell our friends at MS...

03-01-2002, 10:28 AM
I'm interested by the hype concerning Market Share and the alleged implications of it in regard to mobile technology.

The fact that Micro$oft has 22% (I can't remember the exact figure) merely shows that the PocketPC is a respectable option. For Microsoft to not gain any share is nigh on impossible so the fact that they have some market share is no news (IMO). For them to gain more is good news for Micro$oft, but it would be hard for them not to gain more.

Also, there are philosophies which Micro$oft fanboys like to put forward, while glad that they haven't been applied in the past;

Number of Units Sold = Quality of Unit
This doesn't consider the issue of cost. As more and more PocketPC devices are sold, this is seen as proof that it is a good device. So when sales of other devices go up, why doesn't it mean the same?

Nobody should by a Palm because the PocketPC does so much more
Good thing that this didn't apply when WinCE2 was out or nobody would have bought that either (and yes, there were others pioneering mobile tehcnology at the time).

Micro$oft innovates while others still use pants DOS style LCD displays on their phones
At least DOS type LCD displays on phones exist. That would be 'nuff said but also remember that from the lessons learned from the innovation that went into developing mono LCD screens, we enjoy today's technology. Micro$oft hasn't developed the hardware, only the software to run the hardware that someone else has worked hard at. Ask me to write software, but don't ask me to design a microprocessor.

Only Micro$oft has innovated for "issues like more wireless possibilities, security, user interaction, application compatibility, etc"
Ever used PsiWin back in the days when pioneers were pioneers? The Psion machines were more Windows compatible than WindowsCE! I could do more mobile internet, FAX, SMS then than when I 'upgraded' to my HP Jornada 540 (a long time ago - my sister uses it now to play Solitaire). My point is not that PocketPC devices are not innovative, but rather, they are not the only innovative devices (<U>I know that this is a point I keep making, but Micro$oft keep insisting that they are bringing something new to market when really, they're only (at best) improving on what is usually already there only to get the credit for thinking it up</U>).

Finally, in regard to the diversity that Palm is allegedly trying to introduce, you need to remember that different people have different needs because people are diverse. A good developer will be able to write software that detects the screen size and multimedia capabilities of the device it is on (too often I've been the victim of such shabby programming - and sometimes the perpetrator).

03-01-2002, 03:13 PM
Look at Wordperfect, Netscape, Borland, OS/2, Novell. All the same story. All good products.

That's a good analogy, particularly in the case of WP, Novell, plus Lotus 1-2-3 as well (and PKZip being eclipsed by WinZIP). All had good products but sat on their laurels with no real product improvement. Once they gave up a foothold all they could do was to wave as the juggernaut passed them. Now they're still around, but only after an effective surrender and retreat to their little niches.

(As an aside, hoping not to start an off-topic war) OS/2 is a different situation; IBM just completely dropped the ball. Netscape was never a quality product. It's always been garbage, but briefly it was the only player available (except for the feature-poor Mosaic and Lynx, which doesn't really count). I've been in this business since it started, and I can't begin to enumerate the work-arounds we have in our code due to Netscape bugs.

03-01-2002, 08:56 PM
Ahhh, yes... Roadkill. 'Twill happen soon enough.

03-02-2002, 12:34 AM
The interesting thing to me is that many of Palm's executives came from Apple only to make the same mistakes at Palm. Then, at least one of these former Apple exec.'s (Donna Dubinsky) left Palm for Handspring.

There are many obvious parallels and some not so obvious. Most clearly, Apple and Palm fell in love with their own technology. There is a reason why the best technology does not win. The "best" technology is only one dimension by which customers make purchasing decisions.

Just as Apple did not capitalize on the its success in corporate graphics departments to extend into marketing and financial suites, Palm never seemed to grasp that PDA's would evolve into pocket PC's that could reach a wider audience and provide a platform for distributed corporate applications.

03-02-2002, 01:21 AM
Ahhh, yes... Roadkill. 'Twill happen soon enough. **Part II**

03-02-2002, 08:25 PM
Please don't hate me - I bought a Sony Clie T415 for some IRDA software testing. I figured if I was going to get a Palm machine, I might as well get a "good" one. Let me tell you - I like a few things, but I think Palm is on the endangered species list unless they make some radical changes. Here are my observations (after being a CE user since the early days).

This device is called a "multimedia personal organizer" - this is a complete joke. It does not even come with a headphone jack; you need to spend another $130 to get a headphone gizmo. No microphone, tiny 8MB of RAM. Multimedia - this device does not know what that word means.

The good:
1) Small form factor - Palm will continue to beat MS in this area until we see some "consumer" PPCs with less than the most current technology
2) Long battery life - with such a pathetic display and CPU, no wonder the battery lasts a long time
3) IR remote control - this is smart that Sony put a real consumer IR LED into the device. The software is extremely limited, but works nonetheless
4) High-res - 320x320 is nice, but the display is so small and too shiny. The thin font is hard to read in any light

The bad:
1) Slow - I cannot understand how Palm people can say that these things are fast. You can actually see the screen painting when you touch menus and switch apps. Very sad. Palm really needs a StrongARM to make their devices usable.
2) No headphone jack! How pathetic! A multimedia device with mp3 support and no way to hear it.
3) Grafiti - I find this quite annoying and slow to enter data. I want a tiny virtual keyboard.
4) No multitasking - it's annoying that exiting an app means it is frozen. Does not quite work perfectly because switching away from the IR remote control program hangs the IR port and does not allow IRDA to work. You need to do a reset to get the port working again.
5) No microphone! It can play wave files, but cannot record them; that is just dumb. The voice recorder is one of the features I use the most on my PPCs.
6) The office apps are really sad. Reading email, contacts, appointments on the tiny screen is an exercise in futulity. Scrolling through the data is incredibly slow. I am just so underwhelmed by how awful the office apps are.

I guarantee that die-hard Palm fans will have contradicary opinions, but I call it like I see it; I guess you can say I have been spoiled on Pocket PCs for too long.

Conclusion: Palm is going down...

03-02-2002, 08:58 PM
Mr. Bank, as a long-time Palm user, I must correct a couple of misconceptions.

First, assuming that Sony hasn't changed this from standard Palms, there is a virtual keyboard. Click on the little "ABC" in the bottom left of the graffiti entry area. The "123" in the bottom right brings up a numeric keypad.

Second, the PIM function that come standard are lame, but the same is true of PPC. There are plenty of upgrades, notably Datebook4 and ActionNames. In fact, Datebk4 allows at least one feature that I haven't found in the PPC yet: floating recurring ToDos. On my Palm I had a ToDo that would recur every 4 weeks, reminding me to refill my medication. The trick is, it wouldn't start the 4-week counter until I checked the current one as "done". This allowed me in this example to allow for the fact that my insurance will only refill 4 weeks after the previous.

03-02-2002, 09:03 PM
I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing out the virtual keyboard.

I am not really interested in add-on software at the moment - I want to use the device right out of the box.

Another gripe I forgot to mention - no file system. This is truly hokey.


03-02-2002, 09:31 PM
Another gripe I forgot to mention - no file system. This is truly hokey.

A good point, but it's not black-and-white. For a Palm of any reasonable size, managing files is quite a headache, and it's hard to understand how, in the time that add-on memory modules have been available, that they haven't addressed the problem. On the other hand, Palm's categorization feature is near ubiquitous and well integrated.

This leads to an odd situation: while on my Palm it was difficult to manage the large number of e-books on my device, actually reading them (in iSilo) was quite convenient. Contrast this with PPC: managing the files works great, and Reader is much more sophisticated and offers a better display. Yet in the software, there is no way that I can find to categorize or otherwise partition my library.

So (IMHO) MS got it right in the O/S while Palm blew it. Palm app developers got it right in the software while MS blew that.