Omnisky hints at what's coming up
I attended an OmniSky focus group meeting 1/20/00. Lots of knew stuff coming up; some will be quicker then others. About the meeting: 11 participants, 9 men 2 women. Although the mix among the participants' occupations ranged from a SF police department member, to a construction materials salesperson, most everyone was a "Computer Consultant" of some fashion. What else could you expect when you hold a meeting like this smack in the middle of Silicon Valley? Read More...
4 members of OmniSky were present including Barak Berkowitz, the President along with some marketing & tech people. There was also a facilitator of the meeting and I am not sure of her affiliation with OmniSky.
What did they ask? They ask each of us to describe how we use OmniSky services on a day to day bases; how we thought we would use it, and how that compares with reality. They also wanted to know if we ever "pushed the envelope" with the service. That brought responses ranging from finding connecting flight information as the plane comes in for final approach (that's against FAA rules you know) to surfing on the toilet (more than one had that response). We discussed the install process, ordering, and the experiences that went along with it. I think most ordering & install issues were addressed.
As some of may have wondered, what has OmniSky done here? They took Novatel's Wireless Modem that will presumably be available to the public as a Minstrel V, Borrowed a "web browser type" AvantGo, and use Launch'Em as their interface. Sure there's an unlimited airtime policy, but that too is from a 3rd party; AT&T Wireless. What [I think] OmniSky wants to do is create a better service than "Palm.net". I think they're on the right track, we'll see what happens.
What's coming up? Interface: Although AvantGo is [what I feel] an essential extension of the Palm, this will probably be dropped from the install process completely. A browser will be integrated into the software as I'll explain later on.
Note:For those of you who may have tried to delete AvantGo, Guess what? It's in your ROM. That was the first thing the installer did when it upgraded your Palm's "Flash Memory". Not a very good idea however, the needed every kilobyte of space from you non-Vx users out there.
What else will be going away? Probably Launch'Em. Launch'Em has to be the easiest way thus far to manage the myriad of PQA's, PDB's & other Palm Applications however, it's not a "fluid transition" going from bookmarks to Query Aps. So, off with it's head! What OmniSky proposed was 2 options: Plan A: Have a "My OmniSky" interface. Similar to a My Yahoo, you would have the option of customizing your "desktop" with 4 buttons on the left, (E-Mail, Pocket Quicken, MapQuest etc.) and PQA's and bookmarks would be on the right in an "outline" style menu of categories. e.g..
Plan B: Have a tabbed interface similar to Launch'Em, except inside the tabs would be a mixture of PQA's, Palm Aps, & bookmarks. I would say the group was split 50/50 on the 2 so, who knows what we'll end up with. One complaint I heard (and felt was a minor one) was the advertisement tag, "<<Sent Wirelessly using OmniSky>>" that appears on the end of an e-mail. This will be a selectable option after 1/24/00.
Hardware: What's the button in the middle for? Some of you would say for a modem sync but, I think it may end up as the power switch for the modem. How about being able to Hot Sync (in the cradle) or charge the Palm with the modem attached? Sorry, too complex for this version. Analog RJ-11 adapter for those "out of coverage areas"? More than likely this will be included. Wish they bundled the modem & Palm together so you didn't have to go through that lengthy, "keep my fingers crossed, that's what you get for participating in a BETA upgrade/install"? We may just see that. Although the price of the Palm would not compete with Outpost.com.
After the session was over we were given the opportunity to talk with the members of OmniSky but it was getting late & the office people where the meeting took place kicked us out. We were compen$ated for our time ($100 ca$h) and we got a nice OmniSky Golf Shirt. I think I was more excited about the shirt. Have fun & enjoy your units; there will be changes soon. Keep in mind this is a BETA that runs through April 2000.
I'm keeping my identity somewhat a secret so OmniSky doesn't kick me off the BETA for releasing the information above MadMax-The Road Warrior
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- I got one -Tuckermaclain
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