Opinion: Palm's Hardware Strategy

The number one complaint I've heard about Palm's latest models, the m500 and m505, is that they aren't innovative. They don't break any new ground or offer any features that aren't already in a model put out by one of its licensees. While this is true, what most people don't seem to realize is that this isn't from a lack of vision or nerve on Palm's part; it is a necessity for the Palm platform as a whole to succeed.

Palm Inc. is in an unusual position. It is both the licensor of the OS and the largest licensee. It licenses its operating system to companies and then competes against them in selling handhelds that run that OS. It is not in Palm's best interest for Palm the licensee to use its close relationship with Palm the licensor to crush out its competitors. If Palm wanted to drive Handspring and HandEra out of business, they could do it in a heartbeat; simply withdraw their access to the OS. The fact that Palm licenses the OS at all should be an indication that Palm wants its competitors to succeed.

Michael Mace, Palm's Chief Competitive Officer, spelled out his company's strategy for new hardware a few months ago. Palm doesn't see itself as the company that is supposed to break new ground. It allows its licensees to do that. This allows the licensees to compete successfully against Palm... but also take all the risks.

Palm let Handspring break new ground with peripherals by developing the Springboard standard. Palm then waited until it was sure people really wanted this until coming out with its own, the Secure Digital slot. It is now letting Sony experiment with a higher-resolution screen and built-in music playback. If that turns out to be a success, Palm will probably incorporate those features into its next handhelds. If it bombs, Palm will learn from the mistakes without having to pay for them. It will then integrate what it has learned into the Palm platform so that all the licensees can benefit from each one's experiences.

Here's an example of how this works. According to Mr. Mace, before the end of this year Palm will release a successor to the VII series with a higher resolution screen and real-time e-mail reception. Palm will use the experience Sony has gained with the Clie and combine it with its own experience with the VII series to create a model that is better than it could if it was working alone.

Palm also needs its licensees because its long-term plan is to stop making handhelds at all. It wants to be a pure software company not a hardware/software one because software is where the real money is at. If you want a comparison from the PC realm, they want to be Microsoft, not Apple. If they crush out HandEra and run Sony off, they will always have to make the devices, too.

Unfortunately for them, the Palm Economy isn't large enough yet to support a company that just licenses the OS so they have to add to their coffers by making devices, too. This makes the licensees nervous so Palm has to walk a fine line between working with them and competing against them. The term for this is "co-opetition", made by combining "co-operation" and "competition". That's the reason why Palm will never release a model that is vastly superior to those of its licensees.

If you think about it, the arguments over whose handhelds are better, Palm's or any of its licensees', are pointless. From Palm's point of view, they win no matter what. If you buy a model from Palm, they get your money. If you buy from Sony, they still get some of your money and you send them a message that you want a higher resolution screen or built-in music playback.

So the best thing that you can do to improve the Palm Platform is to find a model that suits you and buy it, no matter who makes it. It's almost like democracy except that we vote with our dollars. On the other hand, maybe its closer to democracy than I'd thought...

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superbenk @ 3/20/2001 12:12:38 PM #
You raise some good points for us to think about. I wholly agree with your opinion in this matter though I must admit that I haven't honestly thought along those lines before. What an interesting way to think of it though.

Ok, off topic I know, but don't you think Microsoft should consider Palm if/when it is broken up and has to share it's OS independent of it's software? Maybe they could learn something from this afterall and who knows, a breakup may actually help them.

Sorry for the tangent. Great views!

Palm VII successor

rajen @ 3/20/2001 11:50:01 AM #
I think the points are very very solid. But I do disagree on one point. I agree that Palm will allow its licencees to innovate and break new ground when it comes to a majority of handhelds, but I think the successor(s) to the Palm VII will be very very innovative. I don't think Palm's future internet connected handhelds will be technically inferior to anyone.

It is true that Palm's future is software, not hardware, but a very large part of their future will be collecting monthly access fees from subscribers. So it is my opinion that Palm will not let other Palm licencees out do them when it comes to selling handhelds that will require monthly service fees. Palm is trying to become the Microsoft/AOL of handhelds. I think Palm will break new ground themselves when it comes to the "connected handhelds." Palm will not want to see companies such as Handspring or Sony collecting monthly fees...

Palm's 3 C strategy:
Cover the world with Palms OS PDAs
Connect the Palms to the internet
Collect all of the monthly fees

RE: Palm VII successor
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 3:00:39 PM #
I could not agree more. I believe the opinion piece raises excellent points and is mostly right on. I also however agree that Palm wants very badly to be a wireless company (at least in large part). I believe this will become they're number one priority.

RE: Palm VII successor
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 4:22:45 PM #
I agree - from where I sit, I see the Blackberry devices as being much more interesting Palm competitors than the Pocket PC. The problem is that there is no device that has that magic mix of connectivity, multitasking, great display, excellent battery utilization, expandability, and price. Right now, Palm is the closest, RIM is second-closest. Pocket PC has some great niches in enterprise (where price can be less of a factor), Psion is a great product that is poorly marketed (and add poor developer support to boot). I think Psion's "right" move (spinning the OS into a separate corporate entity) is actually a major drain on their resources.

One more point - there is an advantage to building the device as well as the OS (at least for now). I think part of the Pocket PC's problem is that the division between the software and hardware vendors is too great. Palm has to build a device that pleases customers, not an OS that satisfies its licensees. This focus keeps them to the "Zen of Palm" that they so desparately want all of us to buy into.

NO not a Palm VII successor
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 5:05:49 PM #
i'm sorry i guess you missed the">palm/sprint story from january. Palm is going to offer all of their upcomming wireless services through sprint. They don't want to charge the monthly fee on a service because of all of the upkeep that goes with it. They want to give that to sprint and create solutions that use the pre-existing network that sprint is going to upkeep anyway. There is nothing that says they are going to update the palm VII or to make a successor. why would they be talking about all of the "smartphones" that are being created by their licencees. Those are direct compitition to the Palm VII. Why buy a "wireless palm" and pay a seperate fee when i can get a
">qcp-6035 and use my phone minutes to be online. I expect to have "unlimited" plans specifically for the "palm phones" by the time the
">Samsung phone comes out.

In Response to "No not a Palm VII successor"
rajen @ 3/29/2001 12:47:40 PM #

I know about the sprint deal...but that will not stop Palm from collecting monthly fees. Just like the current deal with the Palm VII. service is not provided by Palm. Palm pays a telecom service provider for the coverage and Palm simply adds a premium to that cost in order to make a profit on the service. So palm is only making profit on the markup. This will probably be done again with Sprint. Even if Sprint provides service, Palm will get a cut.

And yes: There will be a Palm VII successor:

"Palm also plans to unveil wireless e-mail for its devices by year's end. The new machines would compete with Research in Motion's BlackBerry products, which feature miniature keyboards." from a 3/27/00 article by Greg Chang.


"Palm this year will introduce the first devices developed by the new crew. A revamped Palm VII, due out in the fall, will incorporate email notification and, per Yankowski's order, it will be lighter and thinner-much like the fashion-focused Palm V."
from the Business 2.0 4/3/01 issue

So there will be another wireless handheld from Palm...the successor to the VII.

It probably won't have a "m" in front of the number b/c I believe Carl Yankowski said on CNBC last week that the "m" is for manual connections to the internet...through their mobile internet kit. Maybe it will be an "a" series...automatic?

Good Points - Different View

mashby @ 3/20/2001 12:19:14 PM #
Ed, you make some great points and I think you're right that Palm, Inc. is in the favored position when it comes to other Palm OS manufacturers "pushing the envelope." However, I see things just a tad differently. Palm has some innovations of it's own that I think often get overlooked.

The Palm VII
The Palm VII was the first Palm OS device that offered a straight forward wireless handheld. It was easy to setup and has a bigger area of coverage than OmniSky. Certainly OmniSky may be a better product, but if you look at all the various items Palm had to pull together to make this work, it's amazing. They had to have the hardware, the wireless technology, and then persuade people to built content for it. IMHO Palm hit a home run with the VII. That's not to say it's the best in category, but I haven't seen any other handheld company attempt a feat of this scale.

The Palm V
If memory serves, I think the Palm V is Palm's most successful model. It's been a few years since it's release so it's a bit "last season," but it really broke the mold on what a handheld could be.

Although Handspring has been leading the way in the past year or so, the Edge is an also ran compared to the Palm V.

That Said...
I don't think Palm is going to be much of an innovator and I anticipate that they will lose some market share as time progresses. The hardest thing about being a Palm OS licencee is outdoing Palm! LOL

If you recall, the PDA space was dead as a doornail before the Pilot 1000 and it's taken it's original inventor - Jeff Hawkins - to out do himself with Handspring.

Sony has had a pretty lame product thus far, due IMHO to their corporate branding concept with Memory Stick, etc. Their new color device may change all that, but they have some stiff competition.

The one to watch in my book is Handera. I'm REALLY looking forward to their next device and I think it's going to make them a serious player in the PDA space.


The bottom line is that Palm will get to have it's cake and eat it too. :)

Good point, Still bad move

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 12:44:38 PM #
I think the main article brings up some good points and has satisified most of my argument with Palm in not making new innovations. I thik that stragity is good if they were the only PDA in town and to market, ( meaning the OS ). But at the rate they are going to can take long time before innovation is seen in the Palm OS and many of their licensses. Example, Microsoft has Windows CE, they built the capibilities to do things in their OS and left it to their Licensees to incorperate what they want. Whether any here likes their OS or not is not the point. The point is it can handle those functions if wanted or needed. Where as Palm as crawling and calling it running, it can't even handle the functions that many Palm users want, hope to see, and would like. Palm still seems to take the LAZY way and wait for their Licensees to make the first move. If people like it than they'll release an updated OS and incorperate that function into the OS.. It all kinda sound backasswards. I guess we should be greatful and thankful for Palms licensees and Pocket PCs. If it weren't for them we'd still have 2 megs of memory a mono display and 16 mhz processor.

I Simply disagree...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 4:23:32 PM #
I.M. Anonymous,

I Simply disagree with your thought, though I love innovative extras added to PDA as an ongoing efforts. If we are the Borg (from Star Trek), then your points are sound - the only concern is technology and achieving absolute perfection. But, we are living in a world of diversity - we are not the Borg; we are not all scientists; we are not all using PDAs! Palm has its own principle and philosophy in making PDA and Palm OS as successful as a profitable business. By given resources at Palm, I do not believe they can survive to this date by keep cranking out something way-innovative but yet affordable to majority consumers with longer product life-cycle.

Think about how many people actually fully utilize the 8MB memory in their Palm IIIxe/Vx? Think about how many road warriors primarily use their PDAs to listen to MP3 songs? Different people have different needs and life-styles. I respect that. However, it is so obvious that the most of us use our PDAs for making things in a more organized fashion, so we can store and retrieve a substantial amount of information reliably, efficiently with proven technology. Of course, new innovation comes out everyday. I am not surprised that our expectation on PDAs is going to rise too. But, I have seen so many false phrophets, empty wishes and vapor-ware! Think about how many PDAs in the market (or even 6 months from now) will have bluetooth, Home RF or 802.11b work flawlessly with other wireless devices? When will all expansion memory / storage formats eventually be the unified to an industrial standard? When will the PDAs be small enough yet accessible when build into the cellular phones not just in GSM? These are the challenges for the innovation. What we want is not necessarily what we need all the time.

Until then, "simple sets me free (at least)!"


Good point, Still bad move
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 6:11:08 PM #
I respect your point, but it still does little to show what Palm is doing today. They are moving slow. Yes they need to be profitable. No one is asking for the Palm to play MP3s, not everyone needs it to do so. I am talking about having an OS that can keep up with the demands of what today is asking for. Leave the rest up to the licensee if they want. Palm can still put out simplicty and elegant PDAs. But they can start with making the OS more flexible. You may not ever go beyond 8 megs of memory my friend, but I and many other professionals do and have a great need to do so. Palm OS nativly can not even handle this.
I ask again, where is the innovation? Oh yes, I forgot. They fill the gap for the low-end users who can't offord other PDAs and those who have a hard time operating anything remotley more difficult than a wall calander.

RE: Good point, Still bad move
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 7:32:09 PM #
This is a great point. I agree that one way Palm can help fuel innovation is by putting stuff into the OS and letting licensees build hardware around it. Another MS example is DirectX 8; the software is more or less done, and then DX8-supporting hardware cards like the GeForce 3 become available.

Good point or not, BAD choice of WORDS
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/21/2001 5:40:48 AM #
I am sicken by some insulting words here wirtten by whoever you are - See how arrogant you are: "...I ask again, where is the innovation? Oh yes, I forgot. They fill the gap for the low-end users who can't offord other PDAs and those who have a hard time operating anything remotley more difficult than a wall calander."

Why can't you be more polite to others? Since when a PDA becomes an essential good? Who are the high-end users and who are the low-end users? Are you promoting fascism?


RE: Good point, Still bad move
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/21/2001 1:54:41 PM #
"they can start with making the OS more flexible"

I'm sorry, but I don't understand this comment, or your previous comment about designing an O.S. that has capabilities that the licensees can choose from. IMO, Palm's OS has proven itself to be just that. Sony tweaked it to get MP3 capabilities, Handspring tweaked it for the Springboard. Almost everything that the WinCE has said it can do, the Palm has also been able to do. The beauty of the Palm OS seems to be that its simplicity allows it to be extremely flexible, whereas WinCE is expensive, bulky and complex.

On another tack, I'm sure the 8Mb issue is something you won't be talking about in the future, however I see very little need for more memory at this point in time...."You may not ever go beyond 8 megs of memory my friend, but I and many other professionals do and have a great need to do so...." I consider myself a pretty heavy user of my IIIxe. As an architect, I carry drawing files on it to job sites, I sketch details on it using sketch software or a SmartPad, I have ebooks, AvantGo content, Vindigo content...close to 1000 addresses, calendar appointments, Map software, job site photographs, a few games, word processing and printing software, tide charts, a foot/inch calculator...And I've still got a good amount of room left. So I really don't see your point as regarding the current state of things, but I do agree that the future will only bring more memory requirements.


Palm Maybe Can't be as Innovative...

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 1:58:06 PM #
It seems like Palm can't be as innovative as some of its licensees because they lack the manpower or experience; however, it looks like they may push to take the lead in the integrated connected space (at least when it comes to Palm OS devices).

Also, it seems like they don't exactly know what they strategy is. Some people say it's to become purely software, some say it's going to be a mix of hardware/software/services... and these are people in the company. So what's it going to be?

The way things are now, Palm collects maybe $6-10 per device a licensee ships, and at least $60 per device they manufacture (this is pure profit). And I doubt they can raise license fees. What would you rather collect per device sold?

Just my thoughts...

RE: Palm Maybe Can't be as Innovative...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 7:19:22 PM #
First time on the board, but I have to respond to this. I am a market research consultant and think you need to look at the licensing fee vs. hardware sales issue like this, and it comes from an age old addage:

Do you want to make $100 on one unit sold or $10 on 200 units sold.

Looking to the future, the market/manufacturer/consumer trends and the speed of these trends, I'll take the gamble on the latter anyday from where Palm is sitting. Granted they have the share to support hardware sales today, but when the units of other manufactuers pick up in sales and Palm integrates more into a feature rich OS causing more mainstreaming and compatibility of other devices, I believe the latter will prove to be where the $$$ is.

RE: Palm Maybe Can't be as Innovative...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 7:47:48 PM #
palm doesn't just "collect" money when they sell a handheld. they have to back that up with advertising, shipping, product support, warranties, etc. sure palm would make "only" $6-10 when a visor is sold, but then they didn't have to manufacture, advertise or support that product (at least not directly).

look at microsoft. they're doing pretty well sitting back raking in dough every time a pc ships with windows. and that oem windows disk always comes with the happy disclaimer: "please contact your pc manufacturer, not microsoft, for support." it doesn't get any easier and profitable than that! :)

RE: Palm Maybe Can't be as Innovative...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/21/2001 1:04:43 PM #
But isn't Palm really in competition with its licensees? The next best alternative to a Visor sold is most likely a Palm device? So, that $10 Palm receives from the Visor could have been $100 from selling the Palm (already taking into account advertising, manufacturing, etc...)?

Palm m505 _IS_ innovative

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 1:42:34 PM #
While I think the article above is spot-on, I still take issue with people who say the new Palms are not innovative. The Palm m505 is innovative by packing the most stuff in the smallest package around, period. For example:

* Removeable storage/expansion: Only the current CLIE comes close with the Memory Stick slot. Visors that directly take Springboards are larger, as is the Visor Edge with its Springboard adapter.

* Color screen - The Visor Prism has a comparable screen, and is a brick. The new CLIE has a better screen, and is a brick. The Visor Edge has comparable size, but has no color.

And there's other stuff, too. But the new Palms fit the most stuff in a non-brick form factor. And that's pretty innovative to me.

RE: Palm m505 _IS_ innovative
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 7:35:17 PM #
the people who say the m505/edge aren't innovative are the people who already own a palm device. to them (and me), these products aren't radically new enough to justify another $400+.

but i'd bet many first-time palm customers WILL think the m505 is innovative, since it combines the features of all existing palms (expandability (although not many modules are available yet), color, usb, form factor, flash rom) into one unit.

i don't know what palm's overall strategy is, but introducing the m505 is NOT the way to get out of the market. :)

i also agree that at this point it's way too early for palm to consider leaving the market they created. i'd bet there are many folks who might like the extra features in a visor or clie, but end up buying a palm simply because they're the biggest name. many retail stores and websites don't even offer visors (so it's amazing they have 26% of the market share).

at this point, palm still needs to stay in the game and innovate, lest people looking for a name-brand product migrate over to compaq or hp.

RE: Palm m505 _IS_ innovative
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 11:18:23 PM #
Compared to the Palm OS licensees and the PPC, the M505 is innovative.

Innovation is more than raw specs; it's a good mix of capabilities in a usable/portable size.

True the M505 isn't the highest resolution device, or the fastest device.

It's a slim 65K color device with a small form factor for expansion devices, and excellent battery life.

What other PDA's come close? Briefly I'll share my experiences with the IPAQ & the Visor Prism:

IPAQ: Nice(!!!) display, too bulky for my taste, poor battery life.

Prism: Cheapo construction (the prism feels cheap in my hand, and the paint came off the buttons on the Prism pretty quickly), poor QC (I had two Prism's I had to get replacements from Handspring for), below average display quality, and while the springboard is innovative, it's too bulky.

My guess is we'll see high speed (ARM) high resolution Palm devices when:

1. Battery life isn't compromised
2. When such a device can be designed into a small convenient package.

So, by my criteria, the M505 is innovative.

RE: Palm m505 _IS_ innovative
Deslock @ 3/21/2001 10:32:23 AM #
I'm responding to this post because I disagree with the assertion that the new Clie is a brick. It is thicker than the M505 and the old Clie, but it's going to weigh 5.4 oz. That's only 0.5 oz more than the M505 and is the same as a Handspring Visor. For purposes of comparison, the Casio E-115, which is often referred to as a brick, weighs 8.9 oz.

In response to the original article.... it's interesting, but I have several doubts about Ed's theories because I disagree with the assumption that the M505 isn't innovative.

I think it is innovative to be able to squeeze a color screen and expansion slot into a device that thin and light (and still have a decent battery life). Sure, the 1st generation Japanese Clie has color, but its screen is smaller, the device is thicker, and it uses a slower CPU. Sure, higher resolution would be nice, and Palm is moving towards that.

Look at it this way... PPCs are generally pointed to for an example of innovation. But they haven't moved beyond 320x240. PPCs still use CE, which is based on a desktop OS (and still uses a registry and shared DLLs, which can cause many many problems). The PPCs GUI is still catching up to Palm's 1st generation GUI in terms of ease of use and efficient use of screen space. The PPCs are still less efficient than Palms and Psions (memory use, CPU power needed, battery life). PPCs are still larger and heavier than Palms (yes, the IPAQ is smaller than the Prism and IIIc, but is larger than the Clies and M505. The Aero is smaller than the Visor and IIIx, but is larger than the V, Edge, and 1st Clie).

I'm not saying PPCs aren't innovative... they are (no other devices have a color reflective TFT with a 206 MHz CPU in a 6.2 oz package). But some of what is being called innovation is really fixing something that doesn't work well.

RE: Palm m505 _IS_ innovative
mikecane @ 3/24/2001 1:16:36 PM #
The new CLIE is just as thick as the Casio EM-500, with its leather flap lid. It is about 3 oz less in weight. You can argue weight, but I was arguing thickness.

A couple more thoughts

Michael Mace @ 3/20/2001 3:06:25 PM #
Hi, gang.

This is an interesting discussion. I wanted to add a couple more thoughts for you to chew on...

--First, in response to a question, Palm does not have a master plan to get out of the hardware business. But we are doing a lot to formally separate Palm's hardware business from the OS team, so licensees can feel comfortable collaborating with the OS team at the same time as they compete with the hardware guys. The OS and hardware folks are now two totally separate divisions with different presidents. That's a very recent change; in the past, the company didn't have enough people to make completely different divisions.

So we're not getting out of hardware, but we're also not intentionally restraining the licensees from innovating.

--Because the break into divisions just happened, until very recently the hardware team had no resources of its own to add extensions to the OS in support of new features. The same people writing the OS were the ones creating add-on features for the hardware. This put Palm's hardware at a competitive disadvantage relative to other licensees, who could create their own new features before the OS made them available to others. We've now separated the R&D teams, so the Palm branded hardware will be able to add its own new features, just like Handspring and Sony and others.

--I won't get into the argument about whether the m500 and m505 are innovative. Innovation is in the eye of the beholder, and I think different people will have different perspectives. For me, getting color and an expansion slot into that size and weight is a very big deal, and I really like it.

--There is a little confusion about the feature set of future products. I have said that a Palm VII follow-on with notification is coming in the second half of the year, from Palm. I have also said that higher resolution screens are coming from some licensees (one of them, Sony, just announced). But I did not say (or did not mean to say) that all of those features will necessarily be built into a single device. It's very hard today to combine the size and power needs of a cellular radio, higher-res color screen (which uses a lot more memory, especially if you want 16 bit color), and expansion slot into a single device that has what we feel are acceptable weight and size. We're still in the era of tradeoffs, and will be for a long time to come.

Is Palm's strategy of enabling innovation by partners lazy or low-risk? I think it's actually the only choice when you're competing with big deep-pocketed companies like Microsoft and the Symbian consortium. There's no way Palm could fund all the necessary R&D itself. This way Palm users benefit from the combined R&D investment of Palm, Handspring, Sony, Kyocera, HandEra, Samsung, Garmin, other licensees, and thousands of developers.

I think that between us we're demonstrating a pretty cool rate of innovation on the Palm platform as a whole. And there's more to come.

Palm, Inc.

Palm, Inc.

RE: A couple more thoughts
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 4:34:14 PM #
I agree with a lot of these points. One I'd like to add - I think that Palm lost six months to a year due to the spinoff from 3Com as well. Something that dramatic is always a drain on a corporation.

That being said, I think that the Palm OS world is on the verge of having to move to a new platform (this is the ARM direction). The consumer really doesn't care about innovation - he cares that the device does what he needs. As the market matures, however, these needs become more intense (wireless connectivity as opposed to synchronization) and make more requirements on the platforms that support them. How far would we go with graphical web browsers on the original PC, for example? The danger is not making the move at the right time. Palm's next generation moves (OS 5/ARM support, among and other things) is really pushing the timelimit for the current technology.

RE: A couple more thoughts
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/21/2001 12:57:20 AM #
Read the links on chaordic organizations! They are incredibly enlightening, and many of you will be able to think of situations in which these simple principles could have made your life easier and your results better in your own companies and organizations.


RE: A couple more thoughts
mikecane @ 3/21/2001 9:01:23 AM #
Thanks for seconding me, Matt.

RE: A couple more thoughts
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/22/2001 2:25:47 AM #
Please don't sacrifice...

Palm is great today because it hasn't gone for the all the cool junk that intereferes with the 80% feature set we all use. I want long lasting, lightweight. MP3's? You have got to be kidding... Heck, unless color really lasts longer I'd prefer slightly higher resolution black and white...

RE: A couple more thoughts
kimijye @ 4/15/2001 4:42:36 AM #
I'm glad to hear that Palm intends to continue manufacturing hardware. Otherewise, where would all the Palm supporters end up?

Please be well. Kim B. Wei

my next Palm

nickgold @ 3/20/2001 4:04:30 PM #
It is genuinely laughable to watch the geek elites banter about the "mistakes" Palm is making, the company's lack of innovation in its products, etc.

These are the same people who own a Palm Pilot Professional, a Palm III, a Palm V, a Palm Vx, and a Palm VII. This is NOT an accurate portrayal of Palm's market, or any market for that matter.

Everyone whines about how the new Palms don't have this, they don't have that, blah blah blah.

I hate to break it to some of you folks, but I bet a lot of Palm Personals and Professionals are still being used EVERY DAY. They didn't have crap for memory, the screens sucked, the backlight sucked, no IR, old Palm OS, etc. etc. etc. But you know what? They still work, and still do what they were advertised to do.

I originally had a Palm Personal. It was in daily use until I bought a VII a little under a year ago. I didn't upgrade until there was aproduct on the market that was radically beyond what my current device was capable of. My original Palm was a sophisticated digital organizer. My VII is an organizer, a personal communicator, and a media portal. Sure, it would be nice if it had more memory (I would probably get it upgraded to 8 Megs if it were the newer revision that can be upgraded). It would be awesome if it had a high-res color display. It would be nice if it had built-in rechargables (although honestly I kind of like the flexibility that using NiMH AAA batteries provides). It would be really nice if it had an SD/MMC slot, and it would be super-duper nice if could support push services.

But, it doesn't. However, it still does everything I need it to, and more. It is an absolutely incredible device, and there is simply no reason for me to upgrade it any time soon. Here is what my NEXT Palm will have (not PPC!), and I imagine I will buy it a year or two from now:

- built-in wireless service that supports "push" content
- an SD slot, _if_ the standard has proven itself a year or two from now -- will CD/MMC be on the new ARM Palms?
- a much more powerful processor, definitely an ARM -- why bother upgrading to what will essentially be legacy hardware a year or two from now? My VII is perfectly sufficient for a Dragonball-based Palm, even if the processor is slow as heck -- I might overclock it one of these days
- a very nice screen, color, beyond 160x160
- built-in rechargables that are capable of several days of serious use. As it is, I tend to recharge nightly. Not a big deal!
- a _very_ slick form-factor
- more than 8 Megs of internal memory!

Now obviously, none of this is going to be a reality any time soon. And I don't expect Palm's next device, after the m505, to offer all of these features. Am I going to piss and whine about it? No, technological progress is a step-by-stp process. I can gradually see the Palm-Pilot-of-my-dreams coming together, and it's exciting to watch. Palm is not going to go out of business before that point, that I am pretty certain of. It also seems pretty clear at this point that Palm/Palm OS has WON the handheld war, at least at this point.

I would rather see more cool applications come out for devices that already exist, than see a whole new slew of devices come out every few months. For instance, every once in a while when a new killer Palm VII application or PQA comes out, it seems as if my device has a whole new life to it. When I bought it, it was not capable of chatting over ICQ. Or downloading maps from the Verizon yellow pages. Or sending IMBot messages (this is awesome for close-range prank calls! ;) ) Or even surfing the web with the Digital Paths browser.

Let's be happy with what we have, people! The killer device will be out someday -- until then, take advantage of what you already have! Chances are, it is sufficient for your needs. Do we really need Bluetooth at this point? Why bother, what would be do with it?

Enough ranting for now... :)

RE: my next Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/15/2001 6:31:32 AM #
Well I still use PalmPilot from 1997 and I am very pleased that almost evere new app work on it. And I have about the same opinion about my next Palm (something like Clie 700 + StrongARM ...).

Just a few months ago I bought PalmIII upgrade and now I can use my palm with my Motorola Timeport phone (email,...) and for now that is all I need.


I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 4:46:16 PM #
Hi Ed
My compliments for this article! It is exactly the answer to those who do NOT understand that Palm is not trying to sell a philosophy but wants to make money. It is not the question to make the best device - it is how to spread the market as quick as possible.
Coopetition is the keyword.

Dumbing Down

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 6:01:09 PM #
Well written & informative article. Answers my question as to why the m505 is not all that it COULD be. I never imagined that Palm would intentionally 'dumb down' their products. I never quite thought of it that way.
btw...EXCELLENT site.

What' s a Cresenda - a blue m505?

ke6kds @ 3/20/2001 8:02:29 PM #
Go to the bottom under compare devices and see a blue m505? What's up?

RE: What' s a Cresenda - a blue m505?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 8:36:25 PM #

RE: What' s a Cresenda - a blue m505?
mashby @ 3/21/2001 3:51:18 PM #
So, what is it and where did you see it? I browsed the link, but couldn't find it. I even did a "Find On This Page" and no luck.

What about a IIIcx?

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 8:15:18 PM #

When are they going to release a new III series model with 65k (or more) colors? I love to keep up with technology, but I'm not ready to throw out my III modem, keyboard, travel cradle, recharger kits, etc to go to an m505. I'd like to see a new III model. Anyone know if anything is in the works?

RE: What about a IIIcx?
Rusty @ 3/21/2001 1:50:11 AM #
Unfortunately, even if they come out with a new III series (or would it be an m300 series) device, it will have the new 16 pin universal connector on it, meaning that all of your current Palm III series accessories would not work on it. Sorry. This is one of the big problems that 3rd party hardware manufacturers had with ever new Palm, a different connector, so Palm has finally settled oon one connector that is different from all previous, but will be constant for the future, no matter which device line is purchased. It doesn't hurt the revenues for manufacturers when the palm loyalists have to buy up again either....

RE: What about a IIIcx?
kikan @ 3/21/2001 9:59:26 AM #
One good thing (I like to be positive sometimes) is that changing of connectors is a good way to feed the second hand market.

If I want to keep my two years old Palm Pro upgraded to 2Mb and want to buy a modem or a keyboard, I'll find a second hand one which will be (I hope) quite cheaper than a brand new one with the new connector. And I'll be more likely to find one if other Palm Pro / Palm III owners feel like changing to a new device.

Of course, I'll be distanced by technology, I won't have the last model, but maybe my goal is just to have a Palm that fits my needs.

Anyway, today, nothing except envy forces me to change.

My 2 cents

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 8:51:09 PM #
-Palm changes the connector every new device!

III conector, V conector, 100 conector.. 500 CONECTOR! WHY do they fool around with the conector so often? I would like to be able to use an accesory with any palm! A wired modem to be used with any palm..the m100 mp3 player to be used in the III series! etc etc

Palm just changes the connector because its their way to force us to buy a new palm that's not really innovative.

-Palm doesn't innovate, yet they release a new palm every week (sarcasm), that will be old the next week (no sarcasm here).

-why does palm have the bigegst market share if they make old school devices anyway?

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