Log in

View Full Version : Is It Possible Pocket PC is Now the Price Leader?


Ed Hansberry
10-29-2002, 04:00 PM
It didn't matter what features the Pocket PC had, there were always three things users of Palm OS devices could say that we really had no response to:<br /><br /> Battery Life<br /> Size<br /> Price<br /><br />For most of us, more functionality, <i><b>much</b></i> more functionality, was more important than those three items within reason. The Casio E-1x5 really exceeded those limits and was a niche player. With virtually all Pocket PC 2002 devices and the iPAQ 3600 Pocket PC 2000 device, size and weight became an important issue in the design of the device. Quite a contrast to the old Palm-sized PC days. Now these devices rival many Palm OS counterparts and even beat them in volume and mass. And where the devices came up a bit heavier or larger, it was a small price to pay for the bigger screens, full screen handwriting recognition, voice recording, multimedia capabilities, etc.<br /><br />Battery life has also been an area Pocket PCs lagged behind Palm OS devices. Larger screens, a real speaker, more RAM and 206MHz processors. Sort of to be expected eh? Well, through all of that into a PDA and you also expect the price to be at a premium compared to a device lacking many of those features.<br /><br />Well, Pocket PC OEMs (HP, Toshiba) and ODMs (Compal, HTC) have been fooling with Pocket PCs for over two years now and may have figured out a few tricks in getting all of this into a PDA for Palm OS prices. <!> As far as I can tell, in every way the new Dell Pocket PC and ViewSonic Pocket PC exceed everything the original $499 iPAQ can do, and they do it for $199-$299! Palm and Sony have really only just gotten into the rich media full featured devices in the past year or so, and it wasn't integrated at all. Sony had to add a Digital Signal Processor to enable music, had to hack the screen API to get hi-res, and none of them still has a good file system for accessing the storage card. The new round of OS5 devices will close that gap, but this is their first round of devices with that OS and it shows. The Tungsten T comes out of the gates at $499. Yes, it has integrated bluetooth, yet lacks MP3 capabilities and only has 16MB of RAM. I've not seen prices on the iPAQ 5000 yet, but if their base bluetooth model is $499, it trumps the Tungsten T in just about every way. Of course, if it comes out at a $749 iPAQ 3900-ish price, HP can forget about it. The Sony NX70 is $599, though that includes the largest PDA screen available and has a camera. Still, neither of these devices have the full feature set the Pocket PC does. Want voice recording? Get the Tungsten T because the NX doesn't have it. All Pocket PCs do. Want integrated MP3 capabilities? Go with the NX. The Tungsten T will need a third party app, one that is yet to be delivered and will take up some of that precious 16MB of RAM.<br /><br />What about battery life? I've seen reports that both the Tungsten T and NX are good for a week being used 30 minutes or so a day. That translates to 3.5-4.0 hours folks. I think even the Toshiba e570 beat that number. Most Pocket PCs easily get 6 hours and my 3900 regularly gives me over 8 hours unless I am playing a processor intensive game like SimCity 2000. Palm and friends haven't figured out how to make use of those 150MHz+ ARM processors and hi-res full color screens yet and still get <i><b>close</b></i> to the battery life of the old Motorola Dragonball devices.<br /><br />Finally size. Held the Sony NX70? Expanded the Tungsten T so you could actually use it? Folks, in my opinion, Palm has given up the lead in price, size and battery life and has <b>not</b> claimed the lead in functionality. As I said in <a href="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=35676">my post earlier today on Q3 market share numbers</a>, the next 6 months could drastically shake up the PDA industry. This <a href="http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/ticker/article.asp?Symbol=US:PALMD&Feed=RTR&Date=20021028&ID=2046204">Reuters report says basically the same thing</a>. What do you think?

Foo Fighter
10-29-2002, 04:14 PM
You can read my first post in the PDA marketshare thread to see how I feel: http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=35676

I have to agree with the general antipathy towards Tungsten. It is a nice, solid little device (I placed an order for one yesterday) but it is grossly over-priced for what it offers. 16mb of RAM is outrageously ineffective for "multimedia device". What's worse, because the Tungsten has no built-in media software, it's high-end features can't be tested before making a purchase. Consumers are expected to buy this product on blind faith, much like a blind date. Just hope and pray the audio quality is good, or the volume is loud enough. We'll find out x months from now when (or if) Real gets around to releasing a media player. And even then, there may be a more to this story...I'm betting this will be some sort of mandatory subscription service..adding more cost to the device.

IMO, low-priced Pocket PCs are going to have a significant impact on PalmOS marketshare at the high-end segment. Consumers are going to see many nice $199-$299 PPCs sporting rich color displays and innovative features for 1/3 the price of Palm and Sony offerings? So what value will consumers get for that decidedly more expensive hardware? Elegance? Well, that's not something users generally pay more for. And frankly I wonder how strong the "more available software" argument will be when there are many applications that don't work under OS5, and a sizable number that do behave rather flaky. But PPC still has a way to go as well (no repeating alarms?) before it can really "replace" PalmOS.

Still, I would be extremely surprised to see an all out reversal of the PDA market, with Microsoft taking the lead. PalmOS will still continue to lead for some time, but I expect MS will close the gap my a narrower margin.

This is going to be very interesting to watch....like a slow train-wreck in progress.

mememe
10-29-2002, 04:22 PM
And that is the PalmOS.

It's just a more comfortable and easier OS to use. I can hand it to my 4 years old and she gets it. I can give it to my mother and she gets it. I give them the ipaq and it aint so easy...

For a larger segment of society kiss is the way things need to be. It's a PDA and if it accomplishes the tasks most want (eg. where's that darn telephone number or when is that next dentist appt...?) easily it will continue to win.

Janak Parekh
10-29-2002, 04:31 PM
It's just a more comfortable and easier OS to use. I can hand it to my 4 years old and she gets it. I can give it to my mother and she gets it. I give them the ipaq and it aint so easy...
Really? I give my PocketPC to my family and they can find the Start button trivially, and it's easy navigation from there. Whenever I hand a Palm device to someone, they ask "how do I get to the Applications screen?" I have to remind them, "hit the Home thingy". "Oh."

Admittedly some of the more power options, like closing down apps, etc., are not intuitive on PPC, but overall the device is very intuitive. OTOH, show them a online keyboard or Transcriber compared to Graffiti... my dad has absolutely refused to buy a Palm, because he hates Graffiti (and he even learned and worked with it). I had to give him my old iPaq. :)

But let's not degrade this into a flamewar about the old Palms... I saw the pics of the Tungsten T. It's cute, but it really has nothing interesting. The Tungsten W is a weaker version of the Treo. Neither shakes me up. The only PalmOS 5 device worth considering is the Sony NX series, and they're huge. And battery life on either the T or the NX is very PocketPC like. It's time to give up this "weeks" convention; that worked with old B&W Palms that had 20+ hour battery life, but none of the new units have that.

--bdj

Foo Fighter
10-29-2002, 04:32 PM
For a larger segment of society kiss is the way things need to be. It's a PDA and if it accomplishes the tasks most want (eg. where's that darn telephone number or when is that next dentist appt...?) easily it will continue to win.

Yes, but that will primarily be a target for the low-end segment (sub $100) where margins are razor thin, and very little profit can be made.

Palm is a pure-play, completely dependant on PDA hardware sales. They can not afford to loose volume or margins. Larger service oriented corporations like HP and Dell aren't locked into PDA sales. If sales drop off, it will barely have any impact on overall profits. If Palm sales drop off, the company is on life-support.

The real question will be..can Palm survive as an independant hardware vendor...or will they be hung out to dry by the big boys?

Janak Parekh
10-29-2002, 04:41 PM
I have to agree with the general antipathy towards Tungsten. It is a nice, solid little device (I placed an order for one yesterday) but it is grossly over-priced for what it offers.
Can I ask a stupid question? Why'd you buy one then? :D

--bdj

Foo Fighter
10-29-2002, 04:50 PM
Can I ask a stupid question? Why'd you buy one then? :D

Mainly to play around with the new OS and see what the transition to ARM code will be like. This is the big moment we Palm users have all been waiting for, and I don't like criticizing a product I haven't used. It's only fair I try out the Tungsten/OS5 before bashing the new platform.

I ordered directly from Palm. They offer a 30 day return policy, so if I'm not satisfied (I think I just heard the other shoe drop) I can send it back for a refund. This probably isn't going to be a 'keeper".

Janak Parekh
10-29-2002, 04:52 PM
Mainly to play around with the new OS and see what the transition to ARM code will be like. This is the big moment we Palm users have all been waiting for, and I don't like criticizing a product I haven't used. It's only fair I try out the Tungsten/OS5 before bashing the new platform.
Whew, you're just an equal-opportunity basher :lol:

Seriously, if I were to try out a OS 5 device it would be the Sony.

--bdj

p.s. What's your regular everyday device that makes you a "Palm user"?

Foo Fighter
10-29-2002, 05:01 PM
Whew, you're just an equal-opportunity basher :lol:

People attack me from both sides of the fence. Once side accuses me of being a PPC basher, the other accuses me of being a Palm basher. I should just buy a Linux PDA and tell you all to go screw yourselves. :P

Seriously, if I were to try out a OS 5 device it would be the Sony.

The SONY NX is impressive, but I don't like the clamshell design. Seems too awkward to me. The screen is drop dead gorgeous though. 8O

I prefer the traditional "pad style" form factor.

p.s. What's your regular everyday device that makes you a "Palm user"?

It was a Sony T615, but I recently sold. At the moment I have fallen back to my old (very old) Palm M505. That too is going up for sale soon, when the Tungsten arrives.

cdunphy
10-29-2002, 05:02 PM
Correcting an error in the article - the NX70 does come with a built in voice recording application.

The microphone also allows movies with sound. Quality is nice.


And media players for the Tungsten will come. I've been playing with a very nice Audible player.

nishka
10-29-2002, 05:07 PM
PocketPC will not be the price leader until they can sell a unit in the $99 - $149 bracket. Until then Palm will enjoy significant market share with folks not looking for a rhobust mobile platform.

Foo Fighter
10-29-2002, 05:11 PM
And media players for the Tungsten will come.

Yes they will, but there is still now way of knowing how good the Tungsten will perform as a media device. For example, how do we know the volume level (through the headphone jack) is sufficient enough for music playback. Some early Pocket PCs, like the Jornada 540 series weren't very loud in that department. What about overall audio fidelity, bass, treble?

timothyt
10-29-2002, 05:54 PM
I think the Tungsten is a beautiful device. I really like the slide-n-hide design. Palm has always (and will apparently continue to be) targetted the PIM user, not the add-on application user. Everything about the Tungsten is geared toward maximizing what a PIM can do, and that's not a bad thing, it just leaves one to wonder how many of these they will sell at $500 a pop. At about the same price, the Sony OSv5 devices (and not just the NX70) will offer more bang for the same buck.

As the baseline, what Palm HAS done here, that will be good for all of us, is that they've included Bluetooth, and a high-res screen as the base PDA. Sure, the Zire will be there for the low-budget market, but if you're Sony, you now have to beat the Tungsten, which means Bluetooth will be in the Sony devices soon. That means Bluetooth will need to be standard in the Pocket PC market soon, and that's a good thing for all of us.

It also means that the days of Palm enthusiasts comparing apples to oranges are finally coming to an end. It's been pointless to compare the price or battery life of the old Palms to the latest iPaqs, there is just no comparison hardware-wise. Well, now there is! I'm still a little awed that they are measuring battery life in terms of "typical use" - at the very least Pocket PC manufacturers should call their bluff on that (i.e. they should be saying "Battery life of two weeks of typical use (Total of 8-10 hrs. assuming 30 min/day)" ).

I'm also stunned that they don't include MP3 support. There will probably be a 3rd party app that does it (like Media Player for the Pocket PC) but they've really handed Sony a trump card in their own market with this one. Sony can put "MP3 Player" on the box and web sites and Palm simply can't.

Last point: I'm surprised that they didn't also make a model with the keyboard hidden like the Sharp Zaurus has. Does anyone know if Sharp has the patent on a slide-n-hide keyboard like that? They do have a keyboard model (Tungsten-W) coming out early in 2003 but the keyboard is between the screen and the HW buttons.

tj21
10-29-2002, 06:35 PM
I've been playing with a Tungsten for about a day now as my e740 is still back at Toshiba as part of the recall. I have to say I'm more impressed than I thought I would be. The odd thing about the role reversal in Palm vs. PocketPC is that it works both ways. The Tungsten is faster than my e740 at almost everything I do, has a much nicer screen than any Pocket PC (yes I'd love a transreflective screen as well but the PPC feels claustrophobic after the Palm at 320x320, nevermind the Clie at 320x480), and supports integrated bluetooth at a reasonable cost which is still completely missing from the PPC camp. (The 3970 is not reasonable). Furthermore Wordsmith still easily trumps anything in the PPC world, altough TextMaker may eventually change this. I'm not getting rid of my e740 by any means but it is a little disappointing that in PPC's attempt to beat Palm at its own game it seems to have stopped any degree of innovation in what made PPC great in the first place. The article mentions that Palm has finally caught the iPAQ 36xx but PPC is still at that mark or lower in most specs. My iPAQ was faster than my e740 and had the same screen resolution. I bought a PPC originally over Palm based on increased CPU power, better screen resolution, better expandibility, and more powerful apps. Expandibility is still there although integrated bluetooth is huge but PPC's lead is largely diminished on the other points. I believe that Tungsten can be a bigger competitor than most people think. I'm not buying one but if Sony integrates Bluetooth any time soon I'd be very tempted. I think its great to see the PPC camp focused on creating affordable low-end devices but it would be nice to see some renewed innovation at the high-end as well. Stop trying to only fight Palm's strengths and go back to building on your own strengths.

TJ

scottmag
10-29-2002, 06:44 PM
What's worse, because the Tungsten has no built-in media software, it's high-end features can't be tested before making a purchase.


This is a good point. I've ranted about this before, and it's a big advantage for the PPCs. When you turn a PalmOS device on at a retail display case there is nothing interesting to see. The PIM apps are likely to be full of gibberish from someone entering random stokes in the Graffiti area. Even the Clies with their much-vaunted multimedia capabilities have a movie player loaded, but no sample video to see it in action!

In contrast, when you switch on the PocketPCs you get a Today screen with a colorful image in the background. Even if there is no sample data at least it says something like No Appointments today, etc. in the various slots. Anyone can look at that screen and see the value.

So moving back over to the Palm for comparison, let's press the To-Do button and see ...

1. adljlkke dsf mn l
2. elniojjng dfe ein356
3. 4590v0s nrivnnm,tidd sgblkjmn


Now, Palm has long bundled Documents to Go with their devices. And for the sake of argument let's assume that those apps are even better than PPC's Pocket Office apps. (And certainly we can stipulate that the Palm side with the choice of QuickOffice, iambic Office, WordSmith, TinySheet, etc. has better office productivity apps available.) But they are not loaded on the display devices. So clicking through the Start menu on the PocketPC shows the familiar Excel and Word applications. The Palm has nothing. Nothing but gibberish.

At this point in the consumer decision making process Palm does not have much going for it beyond its pricing advantages and name recognition.

Scott

mookie123
10-29-2002, 06:45 PM
Tungsten is going to get all the alledge infliction PPC has. heh

-incredibelly expensive for the hardware it comes with. This is pretty much unanimous across the net. (144mHz/ 8ROm/ 16Ram)

-It's pretty heavy, and thick. So now they can only say....we got the shortest PDA.(see how far that flies in the crowded market)

-It's crash left and right on older apps. Some ne apps interact badly with another new one etc. (email attachment, VFS related)

-PACE will run 80% of older software but the 20% will be your 80% most used software and 100% critical softwares. (magine your $100 bucks medical software can't run) at 97% of Clie 66Mhz.

-what multimedia? (so far only Beta Kinoma player)
-what web browser? (they still use that proxy client for this model, apparently Sony won't share their browser)

So it's Expensive, underpowered, crash prone, and has no compelling new softwares.

nasty predicament if you ask me.

Ed Hansberry
10-29-2002, 07:15 PM
In contrast, when you switch on the PocketPCs you get a Today screen with a colorful image in the background. Even if there is no sample data at least it says something like No Appointments today, etc. in the various slots. Anyone can look at that screen and see the value.

So moving back over to the Palm for comparison, let's press the To-Do button and see ...

1. adljlkke dsf mn l
2. elniojjng dfe ein356
3. 4590v0s nrivnnm,tidd sgblkjmn
And when you do look in the Pocket PC you actually see real data. That is because no one can use Grafitti without training. I'd bet some of the more popular third party SIPs for the NX series will be regular character recognition programs like Character Recognizer or Jot.

spursdude
10-30-2002, 01:51 AM
PocketPC will not be the price leader until they can sell a unit in the $99 - $149 bracket. Until then Palm will enjoy significant market share with folks not looking for a rhobust mobile platform.

this is true, to a certain extent. however, when people will look at the different items on the shelf and see that for an extra $100 or $150, they can get a video player, audio player, transflective screen, and not worry about evil graffiti, i think that a lot of users will be drawn to the pocket pc.

spursdude
10-30-2002, 01:55 AM
Palm has always (and will apparently continue to be) targetted the PIM user, not the add-on application user. Everything about the Tungsten is geared toward maximizing what a PIM can do, and that's not a bad thing, it just leaves one to wonder how many of these they will sell at $500 a pop.

A major thing, though, is that so much criticism has gone to Palm because Pocket PC could and can do all the PIM functions that Palm can, as well as multimedia and more powerful functionalities. A lot of Palm users have replied "well with OS 5, we'll be able to do all that!"

So now the question is if Pocket PC can do all that Palm can and more, and it's cheaper, then why go with Palm?

Brad Adrian
10-30-2002, 02:34 AM
...It's been pointless to compare the price or battery life of the old Palms to the latest iPaqs, there is just no comparison hardware-wise...I'm also stunned that they don't include MP3 support.
FWIW, I've always felt that statements like this are a bit contradictory. The spec differences between the two types of devices continue to make comparisons a bit meaningless. The very nicest Palm's specs still cannot hold a candle to the basest Pocket PC. I guess what I'm getting at is that everyone might THINK Palm and Pocket PC compete in the same market, but they each serve VERY different segments.

Robotbeat
10-30-2002, 03:23 AM
I think its great to see the PPC camp focused on creating affordable low-end devices but it would be nice to see some renewed innovation at the high-end as well. Stop trying to only fight Palm's strengths and go back to building on your own strengths.

TJ

As a long-time PPC enthusiast, I couldn't agree more with this statement. I want a good, fast processor. I'd rather have 200 MHz SDRam and a 400 MHz StrongARM processor for $200 more than a $300 or $200 PPC. I mean, the biggest difference between the two would be the increase in price and increase in power required (which can be offset by a twice as powerful battery). I mean, you pay about the same amount for other components not relating to the chipset and memory and cpu. The R&D costs would be quite minimal. You wouldn't need to design a new CPU. You'd just need to convert the process to maybe .18 from .21 in order to get the decrease in heat and increase in speed. Maybe I'm simplifying things, but why can't the instruction set stay the same and the chip become MORE efficient (or at least stay the same!) when you increase the clockspeed? That's what AMD does. I hope AMD comes into the PPC marketplace (another discussion, but do you guys think that AMD will become more powerful than ever before after the Hammer comes in full force, or do you think it will stay about the same as before?) in the next couple years, which is a definite possibility (well, in the non-PPC WinCE market, anyways, with their aquisition of Alchemy and their fast MIPS processor that, about two years ago, was once considered a rival for XScale for use in PPCs). Hopefully they will eventually do StrongARM-compatible chips.

In other words, why can't real innovation and improvement take place? Even a very linear improvement like fsb speed or RAM speed (maybe low-power DDR?) or, I hope, CPU speed would be so nice. And pretty easy, too. The problem is that, like TJ said, OEMs and MS and others are trying to work on a device that is super-low-power and very low priced and extremely small. That is why XScale sucks. Intel knows very well how to be able to easily scale up the CPU speed by making the pipelines less efficient (whence the bad per-clock performance of early P4 chips compared to PIII chips). They also managed to reduce the power, probably also due to the smaller process size (I'm not sure, does XScale use a finer manufacturing process compared to StrongARM? i.e. .18 instead of .21?). I don't really care about clock speed so much. I want greater performance. If you can give me a consistantly greater performance over all applications, with support for the same old apps, then I'm happy. I don't care too much about if it costs $200 extra, I want faster RAM and CPU speed. And I want to be able to see the results.

yb
10-30-2002, 02:06 PM
I had an opportunity to view the 54xx presentation from our HP rep in Chicago. The price mentioned in the presentation was $749...I asked them how they expect to seel units in any volume at that price considering all the new competition emerging in the PPC space...They avoided the question...typical sales guys...yb

Ed Hansberry
10-30-2002, 02:26 PM
I had an opportunity to view the 54xx presentation from our HP rep in Chicago. The price mentioned in the presentation was $749...I asked them how they expect to seel units in any volume at that price considering all the new competition emerging in the PPC space...They avoided the question...typical sales guys...yb

That could be one with the biometrics and GSM/GPRS. Kind of steep. If it is one of the bluetooth/wifi models or missing the biometrics, they can forget it.