MobileInfocenter

2002: THE HANDHELD YEAR IN REVIEW

It's that time again, Ryan, PalmInfocenter Editor in Chief, takes a look back at the year past. It was quite an exciting time for the Palm Economy as well as a year of many transitions. New handhelds, companies and controversies made 2002 quite a memorable year for PDA enthusiasts.

The year started with a lackluster Consumer Electronics show. Handspring created a stir when announced their Intentions to eventually stop making the Visor and phase out the Springboard expansion system they pioneered. Instead Handsping would focus on communicators and later in the year announced they would also only make models with small keyboards.

2002 saw an insane amount of new handhelds from Sony. Sony released a surprising, 10 new handheld models in 2002. The first of which were the T615C and S360. January also saw the long awaited replacement for the Palm VII the i705. While it was one of the first wireless models with an "always-on" connection and an expansion slot, readers criticized the monochrome screen, lack of voice and expensive data plans.

A few weeks later on the wireless front, Handspring started shipping the Treo Communicator line. EarthLink, which bought out OmniSky, started to offers CDPD Wireless Service for handhelds.

PalmSourceFebruary was an exciting month with the PalmSource conference out in San Jose. PIC was there and has some exhaustive and detailed coverage of the event. Highlights from the conference include the final separation of Palm Inc and PalmSource into two separate companies, Palm OS 5 and the future direction of the Palm OS platform. PIC event went to far as to make a wish list of features Mike Cane thought should be included in future versions of the Palm OS, of which a few made it into OS5.

March saw Palm release the m515 and m130 as well as the Bluetooth SD card.

The PDA Clamshell
Sony created quite a stir the PDA world with its new PDA form factor debuting with the NR70 series. The new models featured a rotating flip screen design with an integrated keyboards large screen with virtual graffiti, digital camera and an MP3 Player in one device. This model was based on the prototype flashed back at PalmSource. Check out our full review of the NR70V here.

m505 SUDS
The ever vigilant PIC readers and members of our forums brought problems with the Palm m505 USB system to light in 2001 and 2002 saw Palm Inc trying to remedy the frustrating situation. Palm eventually started a cradle replacement program that aimed to prevent static build up, while users struggled to find a way to make their handhelds sync normally again. The problem was finally corrected to some degree with the m515.

The DateBk Controversy
Handheld Software publisher, iambic, found itself at the center internet controversy and protest when they registered domain names for a rival product and redirected them back to their own site. The move created an internet age grassroots protest against the company, as concerned netizens expressed their outrage over what they felt was an unfair competitive move. Eventually the ordeal was resolved by the community and all involved in an agreeable manner.

The summer of 2002 was pretty quite but saw a few notable hardware and software releases as companies prepared to release new devices in the fall. Handspring debuted itís small Treo 90 organizer. Former PIC News Editor Ed Hardy gave us an interesting piece on why he thinks the Palm OS is the inevitable winner. Apple released iSync which lets Mac OS X users sync a PC, Palm OS device, an iPod and a Bluetooth mobile phone with one application. One of the only significant things to come out of the TechXNY conference was the annoucement of the Kyocera 7135 Smartphone, which is just starting to come available.

The early fall saw Sony kick it into high gear yet again with 3 new entry level and mid range models. Palm Inc confirmed another problem first mentioned on PIC when they announced that the m130 did not in fact have a full 16-Bit color screen as first claimed.

October was a month of transition for the industry as well as PIC. We unveiled a long awaited site redesign with a new look and many new features. It also saw the departure of former news editor Ed Hardy; and yours truly taking a more active role in the daily news and editorial content. PalmInfocenter was invited to Microsoft's Campus to visit for the Mobius PDA conference. I had a wonderful time out in Seattle and learned much about the Pocket PC side of the market and got to meet many of the folks I've got to know so well on the net yet never met face to face. It was a very nice event and I hope Microsoft continues the tradition.

Tungsten and Zire
Palm unveiled its new Tungsten and Zire sub brands. The $99 entry level Zire is positioned at soccer moms and new PDA buyers as Palm feels that todays Zire buyers are future high end customers. The AlphaSmart Dana Palm OS Laptop aimed at the education market made its premier. And Finally the new top of the line Palm Tungsten T and the GPRS Tungsten W were unveiled.

Looking Forward
Fossil Palm OS Wrist PDA ~ Click For LargerThere is much to look forward to in 2003 and of course you can find a sneak peak at what's ahead at PalmInfocenter. We are most looking forward to the SD WiFi Card, whatever this may be, the Fossil Wristwatch, the Garmin OS 5 GPS device, and Sonyís TV Tuner components. 2003 may also bring us Palm OS 6 though it may be unlikely to see any devices running it. In the mean time check out our very detailed interview with one of the chief PalmSource programmers.

The end of the year saw Palm Inc's return to profitability as well as the announcement that over 25 million Palm OS powered handhelds have been sold to date since 1996. PalmSource announced a strategy and new partners to enter into the Chinese handheld market. We already have details and pictures of one of the first new devices for China, the Legend Palm 168.

Bluetooth logo
2002 also saw the long awaited arrival of the much hyped Bluetooth technology. Products featuring the new wireless standard promise to replace the mess of cords we all have and bring about a new era of digital integration between different devices. So far we are very happy with Bluetooth (the Palm Tungsten T and t68 make a great pair) and look forward to more products and support for Bluetooth as there is so much potential.

PalmInfocenter will be in Vegas in Jan for in depth Palm OS coverage at CES 2003 and will continue to bring you the latest buzz in the Palm OS world. While this report takes a quick look back at the year past you can always find our back content in the PIC News Center. Remember you probably read about it here first!

HAPPY NEW YEAR
At this time all of us at PalmInfocenter would like to thank all our readers and contributors for a wonderful 2002 and hereís to a happy, safe and exciting 2003!!!

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Great year!

markgm @ 12/31/2002 3:34:16 PM #
It's been a great year for handhelds. While progress appears slow while living it, a lot has happened looking back over the year. I can only hope next year has many new advancements.

A year already?

wwiiolds @ 12/31/2002 4:23:43 PM #
2002 was the year my interest in handhelds really took off. Nice thinking back to all the excitement and rumors last spring and summer.

Here's to another great year!

"Lost are only those who abandom themselves."

- Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel

Please give credit where it's due

an0nym0vs @ 12/31/2002 6:31:47 PM #
"Palm Inc confirmed another problem first reported by PIC when they announced that the m130 did not in fact have a full 16-Bit color screen as first claimed."

PIC was not the first to report this - Elisa Batista of Wired deserves that credit; She was the first journalist to believe the evidence, follow-up with Palm, and publish a story about the 12-bit m130 screen. PIC's own 'first report' references her article:
http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=4039
If not for her article, I don't think the m130 story would've been reported here at all, as PIC's editors did not believe the m130 was 12-bit:
http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=3652#52966

an0n

RE: Please give credit where it's due
terrysalmi @ 12/31/2002 10:13:25 PM #
To be more specific, PIC was not the first to report this, but it WAS a PIC user on the message boards who first made the claim and defended it through months of disbelief from other readers and started the entire process...

______________________________________
Kappa Sigma Fraternity - Founded 1400 A.D.

The Star and Crescent shall not be worn by every man, but only by him who is worthy to wear it...

RE: Please give credit where it's due
cbulock @ 1/1/2003 2:48:51 AM #
You did a great job in presenting your evidense about the screen and it is a shame so many people still wouldn't believe the facts. Great job on standing your ground and starting the process that eventally lead to Palm admitting the screen was 12-bit (well, they kinda admitted it).

RE: Please give credit where it's due
Admin @ 1/2/2003 12:38:47 PM #
You are right, what I ment to convey is that the problem was first brought up on PIC. I updated the article to reflect that. Hats off to you for sticking to your guns on this one.

What a year

Massman82 @ 12/31/2002 7:52:50 PM #
And I'm looking forward to the next one :).

Roman Pedan
Palm V/Vx
Will get a Palm OS 5 handheld
RE: What a year
Timothy Rapson @ 12/31/2002 8:18:18 PM #
With neither the the Zire nor the Tungstens the least bit interesting to me, it has not been a fulfilling product cycle in the second half of 2002.

But, the first half brought the PalmSource glimpse of what turned out to be the best Palm OS handheld ever. The first truly useful and satisfying PDA I have ever owned; the NR70V.

I still can't believe how weak Palm's $100-$500 offerings turn out to be. I would not want any of them. I hope Palm does something in this area before every PDA buyer on the planet buys a Sony (great models all over that range) or Dell Axims (OK, I would only want an Axim with Palm OS but they are competition.)

The biggest stories may be what didn't happen.

*Not enough PPCs at reasonable prices showed up to take any market share from Palm OS models. But so many were announced that sales of current PPCs are probably way down.

*The Sharp Zaurus did not sell and Sharp is not delivering the smaller model to the US at all.

*OS 5 was late and delivered practically nothing, not even a MP3 player.


Well, next year.

What about the NX series?

rnh7372 @ 12/31/2002 8:53:08 PM #
I didn't see any mention of the NX series...

RE: What about the NX series?
markpmc @ 1/1/2003 4:43:01 PM #
I guess it's just one of the 10 that Sony introduced last year. PIC still hasn't published a review of the NX series. I hope that Sony hits the ground running next week at CES. The street price for the PEG-T665C has dropped to $300 (same as the SJ30)...

markpmc

OS 6 in 2003 but not on handhelds?

SaabCaptain @ 12/31/2002 10:29:45 PM #
I am confused by the comment that OS 6 might be released from PalmSource to manufacturers in 2003 but might not appear on any handhelds... Why wouldn't manfacturers embrace a new OS on their high end models... after all OS 6 and the changes it will bring are inevitable and we have to start the change at some point?

owned: Pilot 5000, PalmPilot Pro, Palm V, IIIc, m505, Sony T615, TUNGSTEN T!!
RE: OS 6 in 2003 but not on handhelds?
cbulock @ 1/1/2003 1:44:51 PM #
It would probably take a little while from the time the manufactures recieve the OS until they put it on devices. Seems like OS5 was shipped out in mid-summer, but devices didn't show up until the end of October.

RE: OS 6 in 2003 but not on handhelds?
hotpaw4 @ 1/1/2003 4:03:34 PM #
OS 5 API's and hardware prototypes were first introduced to the developer community in early December '01. The last SDK labeled OS 5.0 came out in early April (the mid-summer Golden Master was labeled 5.1). OS 5.0 handhelds weren't ready for shipping till late October '02, almost 11 months after the API's were revealed.

OS 6 is rumored to require a much smaller change in hardware architecture, but probably a huge change for new applications (perhaps similar in the impact to moving an app from MS/DOS to Windows95, or from Mac OS 9 to OS X Cocoa).

it's "its," not "it's"

drixter @ 1/2/2003 10:26:56 AM #
Ryan, dude, love ya but you're driving me nuts with misspelling "its" every other article.

"It's" is correct only when it's a contraction for "it is", as in this sentence, or "baby, it's cold outside".

"Its" is correct when it's possessive, as in "the dog wagged its tail"

So in this article, "It's that time again" was fine, but "Palm unveiled it's new Tungsten" should have been "Palm unveiled its new Tungsten". I know this is minor, but MAN it makes me crazy.

Oh, and thanks for putting out an informative website that I check weekly!

RE: it's
Admin @ 1/2/2003 11:08:15 AM #
Thanks, you're welcome to email me if you notice any mistakes in the future. I warned you folks about my grammer, mmsword only goes so far!
RE: it's
M3wThr33 @ 1/5/2003 7:05:28 PM #
MMSword? ;-)

I don't think you understand the gravity of the situation. We're in space.
RE: it's
Agonistes @ 1/6/2003 3:36:10 AM #
One more:
grammar, not grammer
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