Comments on: Most Handhelds are Under-used (Updated)

Update: Michael Mace, Palm's Chief Competitive Officer, talked to the analyst at the Gartner Group and was told these figures are true only immediately after the purchase of the Palm. As time passes, a higher percentage of users install third-party applications.

I think this study is invalid and I apologize for publicizing it. I considered withdrawing this whole article but I think the comments from readers posted below are worthwhile enough to keep the article alive. -Ed

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I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:02:11 AM #
No wonder I can't make any money as a developer....are there any success stories out there for developers that post their products on palmgear or handango?

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:34:39 AM #
The reason you are not making money is because people want free software.

They might try a few thing here and there, but then they decide they will not use it as much or its too spensive!!

The other is that the average user does not know where to get software, for their information

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:54:07 AM #
The reason you are not making money is because people want free software.

I'm not so sure about that one - sure, maybe it's partly that people don't know how to install (or find) third-party software, but I doubt that everyone's just CHEAP. Speaking for myself I'll always use the free version if presented with two identical applications, but for particular features I will pay -- just not $30 per app. I've paid for iSilo, HanDbase, FlashPro, Galax, Zap!, QuickWord, HandyMap, and a few others that escape me right now (no longer installed). And I don't think I'm alone out there.

So if someone's having trouble (and the original poster sounded more like he was just carping for fun) then it's probably not as simple as "People won't buy software".

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:04:50 AM #
I guess the main reason is that there are too many free softwares out there.

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 11:05:13 AM #
Free software is certainly great, but I, for one, am willing to pay for software that I find useful (or fun). Off the top of my head, I've registered:

BackUp Buddy
JFile Pro
FlashPro (for Palm III & Palm V)
JackFlash (for Palm m505)
PocketQuicken 2.0 (well, for my wife's Palm V)

A few of these have fallen by the wayside with changes to PalmOS, but I've certainly done my part to support the Palm development community. ;)

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 11:15:13 AM #
Many medical students/ residents are walking around with close to $1K worth of software on their PDAs. Unfortunately, most of them are savvy enough to know which news groups/ yahoogroups/ Warez sites have cracked or registered versions for download. Even so, I've seen more legally obtained copies of megabuck apps than cracked versions. I would imagine that the way that the program is restricted would be an important factor. Programs that are painfully hobbled with long nag screens or are severely limited in capability get immediately deleted, as they are too frustrating to evaluate. Price can be another issue. When ActionNames runs for about $25 there is no way that I'm going to pop $15 down on a hack. When programmers charge big bucks to upgrade (as Synergy just did w/ "Launch'Em"), I dump the soft ware. Buggy programs that should be in beta version are usually not bought up in troves. Just my 2 cents.

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 12:25:45 PM #
I guess I would be one of your success stories. I have downloaded freeware and paid for quite a bot of shareware, too. I have only had my Palm for two months but I've alread filled up about 18 megs. Even better, I am not at all like the profile of those in the 1% category. I am an English major who doesn't have a clue about how to program, and the more technical discussions on Palm forums are completely lost on me. I just love my Palm. Wherever I am, I can whip it out and write down a few lines for a work of fiction I am working on. I can read great works at the push of a button. I can read the NYTimes Arts page on AvantGo. I can't imagine living without WordSmith or TealScript and a host of other apps and hacks.

How in the world did I wind up this way (i.e. how can you create other users like me)? I research products before I buy them, and I do a lot of my research on the Net. This naturally led me to sites like this one and also to PalmGear. It was so natural that I confess that I am astonished that more people haven't done or can't do that. Maybe a lot more handheld users have visited sites like PalmGear than we are aware of, but they didn't see a need for any of the apps/hacks or maybe they just didn't understand how to d/l and install them.

When I installed my first hack, I couldn't figure out how to make it work. I asked about my trouble in a forum and that's how I learned about X-Master. I wonder how many other people make mistakes like this, don't ask about it, and walk in away in disappointed, frustrated confusion.

Any guesses?

We need another study: WHY are most handheld users so ignorant of the wonderful world of apps and enhancements out there?

RE: Broke!
wilco @ 7/9/2001 12:45:33 PM #
Depends on how you define success, not all developer will make money, and since the installed base for PDA is smaller than desktops(but growing), the potential buyers are not as much as say, a Windows application. But the development cost for a program is much smaller too...
Powerpower had an article on PalmGear where it stated a developer who makes a living out of making Palm software:
Finally, a software success depends much on useability/good design, marketing skills, and luck. Maybe you had targeted a crowded market, too a small niche market, or just posted it on PalmGear once and forgot about it. Regular updates can draw new users to the product as it become more visible on PalGears' frontpage.

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 12:58:07 PM #
see the banner up top? Even ED needs a job! Palm sites are great for hobbies...but none of us are making any money I suspect! There might be the rare exception...but it's just that an exception. Developers and palm site masters...throw in your 2 cents and let us know if you can actually make a living at this stuff. I've tried it on the side and have made a few hundred dollars in 3 months w/ 3 products on handango and palmgear...granted my apps are not earth shattering and are for a small niche of the market

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 1:03:24 PM #
I would define success as the ability to develop palmos software as your only income source and to be able to live middle class doing so? Does this sound too optimistic and naive on my part?

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 1:56:43 PM #
Poor poor developers, some of actually do register, pay for and use excellent Palm software. I personally have done the following since January 1999:

14allCalc $8.00
ActNames $19.95
DayNotez $14.95
DietLog bundle $49.00 (included WeightLog and DietLog)
Froggy $10.00
Galax $19.95
HandMap $16.00
6 Maps $22.00
iSilo $12.50
IntelligentFind $9.95
Klondike $12.00
Orion Mail $10.95
PktQuicken $29.99
PktQuicken upg $14.95
ThinkDB2/dbSync $39.95
Trip $19.95
WordSmith $19.95
Ababall $9.95
AdressPro $19.95
AfterBurner $8.00
AquaTrac $8.00
AutoSync free w/BackupBuddy
BackupBuddy $19.95
Beam Box $5.00
ClearHack $5.00
ClipHack $7.00
Commander $14.95
Counter $5.00
Jot Bundle $39.95
LeftHack $10.00
MagicText $17.95
MiniCalc $29.95
PalmJongg $12.00
Pilot Info $10.00
PocketWatch+ $5.00
Pool $7.00
PopUp Calc $9.95
QuickBits $14.95
QuickWord $19.95
Recycle $12.00
ReDo $11.95
OmniRemote $20.00
ShiftHack $5.00
HackMaster $5.00
Sign-On w/Jot
Silence $5.00
TimeSync free w/BackupBuddy
TrapWeavr $5.00
UnDupe $4.95
WordComplete w/Jot
InstallBuddy $24.95
Mocha MPPP $12.00

Total $715.39

Lets not leave out Palm hardware:

Palm III $220.00 (Pawn shop)
Palm IIIc $449.00
Palm m505 $449.00
Palm modem $95.00
TRG 8MB card $249.00
Revolve Car adapter $50.00
Chamelon stylus $18.95
Fisher Space Pen $24.00
EB m505 slipper case $36.00
Cross peb stylus refill $6.00
HotSync cacle $19.95
Extra USB cradle $37.95

Total $1654.85

GRAND TOTAL $2370.24

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 2:03:41 PM #
I forgot 2 other apps-

!pZip $8.00
FlashPro 2.0 $4.95

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 3:51:52 PM #
You can make some money at it; maybe not enough to live on, but certainly enough to be a viable side job. You need to pick your market carefully, and have a best-of-breed product. You need to be original; a me-too address list or calculator or timer etc. won't cut it. The product must serve a specific function, and should be better than the thing it replaces. It can and has been done many times...

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 5:27:55 PM #
You guys are in serious bondage to this stuff, use it for what you need to! And get on with the rest of you life! I am a fellow palm user also

RE: Broke!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 8:30:38 PM #
Who ever posted that Powerpower had an article on PalmGear where it stated a developer who makes a living out of making Palm software:

Thanks it was a good read. What you didn't mention was the developer "who lives like a king" lives in Croatia where if I recall right has a cost of living around 1/10th of the USA.

Put it in plain terms. You only need to earn a 4 figure salary to get by nicely!

Moral of the story... Become a developer, shift to Croatia, live like a king. :)

RE: Broke!
dmccarty @ 7/10/2001 10:22:13 PM #
Well, a few people have posted software lists that they use as a user. I'm a Palm developer (I feel like I've been around for a while), so maybe some of what I'm about to write can be useful to somebody.

Back in late '99 I wrote several Palm programs, which you can view here:
The programs have been (I think) mildly successful. Certainly not enough to live on, as one posted put it, but not a bad income for a hobby, either. The three pieces of software that I sell--GadgetHack, Padlock Plus and Graspeedy--are all $4.95 and are sold on PalmGear and Handango. (Handango has been responsible for a negligable amount of sales. All sales come through PalmGear.) Both sites take 20% of the price of the program ($.99) for every license sold.

To date I've received $11,024.04. And I haven't updated the software in two years. So I guess you could say that it's been a nice residual income, although if I don't get my tail in gear it will soon phase itself out. My best month was January 2000 (which, due to the way PalmGear waits 30 days before cutting a check means that it was from Christmas 1999 sales), for $1,405.80. Last month I received a check for $186.12.

Some of the sales have come from multiple licenses. A large customer in Canada (I don't think I should say their name) paid $1,000 CDN for a number of licenses--we made a deal so they could finish out their year's budget. However, I believe most of the sales are from people interested in security--Padlock Plus is the best seller of the three--and don't mind paying $4.95 for a program. For a while, a freeware version of Padlock Plus, PadlockHack, was on PalmGears Top 50 page. A lot of early sales may have come through that link.

I think that if I devoted all my time and energy into creating Palm software and doing Palm consulting I could make a decent living. However, I already make a decent living as a programmer during the day and I'm not prepared to make that leap of faith.

You may have thought, "Wow, $11K is a lot of money. What'd he do with it?" Well, $11,000 _is_ a lot of money. Unfortunately, the IRS takes nearly half. (Self-employment taxes are really rough.) I also donate 20% of the pre-tax sales to charity. At the time of the greatest sales I was getting married, so all my available money went to that. And after that we made it a priority to get out of debt. So even though in a lump sum, it's a lot of money, over a month to month basis it hasn't made a large dent--I haven't bought myself a plasma display, kept up with the latest and greatest Palm device, bought all the coolest accessories, etc. I _have_ used it to pay for my "technology pays for technology" adage: my monthly cell phone bill and cable Internet access.

Anyway, it's been nice receiving a royalties check in the mail each month, even if the dwindling amount is a constant reminder that the public desparately needs an update that will work on OS 3.5.2 and OS 4.0 and that I feel that my skills are getting rusty and don't even know of my sources will compile with the latest palm dev kit. But I hope the above information proved interesting. Thanks for reading this far.

Daniel McCarty

That's what PDAs are for.

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:27:31 AM #
It's not Under-used. I would say it is the Primary reason why they get a PDA in the first place.

Since it is the main reason for buying it and they spend 60% of the time doing that, I think it is fully utilitised.
Unlike some people who purchase PDA with all the added features and don't use them more than 20% of the time, like playing videos, listening to music.....etc

And it is a good reason why Pocket PC is not as popular as Palm, It's because not many people are using the multimedia features found mainly in Pocket PC.

For PIM work, a slim light-weight Vx or m500 series is a strong contender for any business executives.

Not many people will think of reading ebooks, listening to music, viewing pictures, reading Doc/Xls..etc on a PDA.

RE: That's what PDAs are for.
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:36:40 AM #
I agree. Just because most people aren't reading email and browsing with their handheld is no reason for alarm or shame. We simply don't need to do that with a PDA.

RE: That's what PDAs are for.
EdwardGreen @ 7/9/2001 10:36:52 AM #
Which makes me wonder if the various sites and companies that sell Palm software are actually reaching the major element of their possible market.

Compared to many "non-techie" PC users I meet who upgrade every two years because they filled their Hard Drives full of useless software off magazine coverdisks, the average "non-techie" palm user seems to be completely ignorant of the range of software available for their device.

Furthermore many people I meet are still uncomfortable buying something over the web without a box. They struggle to perceive the value of a $60 palm application, as it comes sans packaging. Added to this the huge amount of very poor Palm software now available (due in some part to the proliferation of easy to use programming environments) may mean people get put off digging out the Gems.

I used to work for a company that had invested heavily in Palm V's. They then decided they didn't do what they wanted and were going to scrap them and move onto something else. They hadn't even considered the possibility of 3rd party software solutions. d'oh.


Medical Profession's Use of PDA's
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:53:13 AM #
Most of the medical residents across the country use Palm OS based PDA's. Epocrates is used by almost all for drug information and dosing. Skyscape and Handheldmed are doing well by supplying several books that can be read of the SD/MMC. There are also other companies like ePhysician, etc. who bring wireless service such as billing and prescription right off their handheld. A setup can be done as well to get lab information from the hospital straight to your handheld which is a plus.

I hardly have any need to carry anything else in my pocket other than my m505 since I am carrying quite an abundant source of medical material just by having it with me.

Others have several versions of the Bible as well in their Palms including myself. Most of the software I have with the exception of Epocrates were purchased but there are quite a number of free applications out there dealing with the medical field.


RE: That's what PDAs are for.
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:54:55 AM #
It should be noted that a large number of the third-party apps are either enhancements or replacements for the built-in apps. The others are often redundant and/or may be interesting only for short time. I would suggest most people would find web-clipping(like AvantGo) to be only a minor convenience. After all, the news you might read tonight from will be in virtually every major newspaper tomorrow morning, usually with more detail. Enthusiasts(or, if you prefer, geeks) who frequent sites like this generally tend to believe they are, or at least should be, a fair representation of the market as a whole. Guess're not. You may want 85 databases and another 15 ebooks on your Palm, but the average person doesn't care. Deal with it.

Medical Profession's Use of PDA's
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 11:17:38 AM #
I agree with your comments. However, I think it is a bit of a mistake for Residents to be using ePocrates in its current stage of development. It's database is very incomplete, and the QID add-on is pretty sad compared to the Sanford Guide.

So long as those using it realize they don't have the "whole story" it shouldn't be a major problem.

RE: That's what PDAs are for.
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 12:34:24 PM #
Nonsense. I have been wondering how well the computers have been utilised? Most people buy a computer to get to the internet, emailing, some word processing and gaming, that's it!

If you want to use simple PIM, just go to local electronic store and check those cheap personal organizer which cost $30-$40 dollars!

RE: That's what PDAs are for.
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 3:34:10 PM #
"That's what PDAs are for" begs an interesting question. If you fail to use your PDA to play games, I can hardly say you are underutilizing your PDA.
There are plenty of ways to play games, and one can hardly claim you HAVE to buy a PDA for that capability.

However, a basic use of a PDA is to let you carry around reference information very useful to you,
that you might not easily lay your hands on. Many of the third party apps (especially the data bases)
address this issue, and failing to use them is underutilization for most people (let's exclude reference librarians and people with
eidetic memories, who probably do not need an extra 8MB on their person).

Almost everyone can greatly benefit from carrying some lists, DBs, refererence memos, restaurant reviews, grocery items, etc., not to mention info specific to almost every type of job and hobby.
The study points out (sadly) that most people are not able to go all the way through the process of:
- recognizing their need
- finding a way to meet it on the palm
- remembering to use that capability.

I think the big PDA companies (such as PALM) should be running ads that highlight awareness of
this type of PDA use. How often have you seen an ad in which a specific problem is solved by a specific PDA
add-on capability?

- toby robison

RE: That's what PDAs are for.
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 4:09:05 PM #
Underutilized is a stupid way to put it. You mean that if it is possible to use something a certain way, and it is not being used that way, it is underutilized?

ways my palm is underutilized
medical text, email, graphic doodle pad, paper weight, and skipping stone.

the palm is a PDA, it is an organizer. Most people use it this way.... hence it is "mostly" utilized.

of course that makes for a boring story.

RE: That's what PDAs are for.
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 6:46:09 PM #
If you have a $500 handheld that you are using to keep your phone list on, you wasted about $470. You can get a super-cheap PDA from Target that will do that. A Palm can do so much more that not using it to its full potential is a waste.

RE: That's what PDAs are for.
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 5:02:11 AM #
Unfortuately the $30 organiser cannot sync with Outlook and other popular email programs.

Most companies use Lotus Notes, Groupwise (for that you have to use Intellisync)..etc

They want their appointments/contacts and emails to be "ported" to their PDA when they are on the move and re-sync with the PC/laptop when they are back in office.

If a $30 "PDA" can do that, I will agree it will seriously affect Palm's sales.


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:48:10 AM #
I have to say I'm surprised that the number of prople using third-party apps is THAT small. Although, I am still surprised at the number of people who own a Palm (or PPC) who don't even know that you CAN install other apps.

This is so curious because I know that many of those are 'techies' . . . seems they would take the time to explore at least.

I know that I use Datebk4 and Progect ever single day . . . . .

"handheld applications" Use

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:47:56 AM #
I would be curious to see a breakdown of the "handheld applications" usage. I would probably respond that I use mine for Contacts and Appointments most also. But I also have a dozen third party apps (including Action Names for my Contacts and Appointments and To Do List) It all depends on how the questions were worded. I use my palm for a Check Register and to store my Passwords (STRIP rocks). If they asked what I use My palm MOST for I would fall into the stats on the servey. I wonder if the 1% is the people who use a third party app the MOST.


RE: most users do not know of their handheld power
wilco @ 7/9/2001 12:30:07 PM #
Most users especially those who had their handheld bought for them (i.e. corporations), do not know of the hidden potential of the handheld, most probably thought its just an enhanced address book/scheduler. The lack of preinstalled software magnify this. Maybe an article on untapped potential of the PDA can do a lot to address this, not too many knows that the PDA (with the right software)can be turned into a universal remote controller (Omniremote...), picture book(Album to go...), scientific or financial calculator(PowerOne, FinCalc...), Astronomical aide(Planetarium...), Dictionary (Noah, Bdict...), and much much more. Of course, a lot of these software are irrelevant in daily life...

Good subject for a survey

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:32:26 AM #
I paid for and use Pocket Quicken, Date Mate, Account Manager, Athlete's Diary, My Bible, several games, Todo Plus, Wordsmith, and others. I would probably use it for email if there was a wireless provider in Atlanta (other than for the Palm VII - or if the Palm VII replacement has a color screen as good as the Sony).

RE: Good subject for a survey
palmdiva @ 7/9/2001 12:04:14 PM #
I agree a survey would be good. "How many 3rd party appls do you have with a number range. I'm shocked at the small amount of people who use third party appls. I carry a VIIx and a IIIc everywhere I go. (Basic requirement for a handbag it must be big enough for two palms. I have not including the built in appls 42 third party aps on the IIIc; 53 appls and pqa's on the VIIx and I just did an overhaul and deleted the underused appls on both. Only a few appls overlapp on both and that's just hackmaster and keyboard drivers.
I don't want to add up how muc I've spent over the years. The pricey stuff would be Documents to go; gluco-pilot and DP Web. I need a frequent buyer discount for peanut press. If it's important it goes on the palm from family pictures to important documents

RE: Good subject for a survey
GregGaub @ 7/9/2001 1:11:57 PM #
The problem with such a survey is that it would be taken on this site. We've already established that even as far as techie/geeky people go, we're on the top rung. We are so far from the majority of Palm owners that it's laughable.

I think someone hinted at a good idea for Palm marketing to consider, and that's to push harder for people to even KNOW they can install other applications. Their agreement with PalmGear has helped make finding apps easier, but that's still only good for people who think to LOOK for them. They should do some kind of "More than an Address Book" campaign so that all the new users know that they can find specialized applications of all kinds through their web site, or other sites. A To-do or Memo with information on where to go to get started would be a good start.

PUGs are a good resource for new users as well. Palm should include an address book entry for InterPUG, too.

While their at it, they should make a deal with chris Antos and include a version of HandyShopper2 on there. Everyone has to go shopping for stuff, whether they admit to it or not. ':-)

RE: Good subject for a survey
palmdiva @ 7/9/2001 3:25:30 PM #
Greg, you're right. Just a few minutes ago a co-worker asked me to consult with an employee who's using her Vx as a really expensive datebook. She thought that adding other appls would "corrupt" her palm. I've scheduled some time with her tomorrow and am trying to explain to her that buying a palm and not using other appls is like buying a PC and never using any other software. I guess it's up to all of us to spread the word to users. Over at the forum for the high tech housewives at We are a fairly sophisticated group of users and it's been discussed before how Palm has missed targeting whole groups of potential users. What good are are branding Michael Jordan and claudia Schiffer Palms if you don't broaden your audience. The only people that really know about these "special editions" are people like us the hardcore users anyway.

No surprise!

mikecane @ 7/9/2001 10:52:28 AM #
"Underutilization" has been the coin of the realm with desktop PCs (of all OSes) too. You would think this would make "internet appliances" more attractive, but no.

This also accounts for any slippage in Palm sales. I was in a store where some overdressed, overfed, overpaid dolt came in to cop a feel of the m505. The salesman pointed out the new slot for additional storage. Mr. Dolt proudly whipped out his Vx and bragged that he could hardly fill one of its eight megs.

I had to leave. I was getting nauseous...

Really not surprising, if he fits the mold of the article
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 11:23:03 AM #
If all he is using the device for is contacts and meetings, I'm not surprised he hasn't filled it up.

I didn't outgrow a meg of memory until I started keeping ebooks and maps on my Palm.

Jon Acheson

RE: No surprise!
mikecane @ 7/9/2001 12:57:40 PM #
Then maybe Palm should produce The Moron Edition of their unit: Address Book only!

RE: No surprise!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 2:17:22 PM #
That's why 2 meg Palms are still being produced.

RE: No surprise!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 11:40:57 AM #
I'm struck by the smugness of a lot of people's comments. Just because you can use your Palm to play games doesn't mean you HAVE to. Just because you can use your Palm for databases doesn't necessarily mean you see a need for it.

Just because the guy looking at the m505 barely scratches the capacity of his Vx doesn't make him less of a human being than you. Maybe he's browsed a lot of software or even sampled it, and he doesn't see sufficient need for it. That's why companies offer DEMOS--you should really look it up. And you shouldn't judge this guy just because he didn't marvel at the SD/MMC slot like you do.

The only thing that should nauseate you is your own over-inflated ego.

RE: No surprise!
mikecane @ 7/11/2001 11:06:31 AM #
Poor you! Feeling sympathy for those who can't get the most out of their money. You have a great future in bureaucracy. Smug and proud of it.

What about To do and Memos?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 12:02:29 PM #
I think many people use those as well. I am not surprised about this either, as although I have many other apps on my Palm, I use the 4 basic ones by far the most.

Second tier are Docs to Go, AvantoGo and games.

Third tier are TealPaint and Secret.

As for not wanting to pay for Appications...I certainly don't mind supporting shareware vendors, but won't pay more then $29 unless the application is really great. Also the top I'll pay for a game is $19.

The Trouble with palm Software

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 1:05:40 PM #
Most people, even techies don't know about Palmgear and other repositories of Palm software. I find all the time people are surprised at how much software there is. It isn't apathy, just there isn't an awareness.

It also sucks that what 3rd party software that is promoted is $30 and you guys are on target when you say that at that price point you are turned off because of no packaging / etc.

They really need to get realistic. These programs that cost $30 should really be $10.. The ones that are $15 should really be $5 and the ones that are $5 should be free.

I refused to buy most palm software because they try to gouge you. If it was $1 or $2 i would have bought a gang of software by now.

Luckily there are a lot of free alternatives to the paid software.

RE: The Trouble with palm Software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 1:22:45 PM #
What you're basically saying is that developers should be giving their workproduct, what many work on tirelessly, away for free. Interesting concept. Perhaps attorneys, accountants, doctors, consultants, etc. should also give their products away for free, eh?

Don't think that because the form factor of the device is a fraction of the size of a desktop or even notebook computer that programming for that device is any less complex. It isn't. In fact, in many ways it can be more challenging than programming for a desktop computer. Imagine trying to design a human interface within 160 pixels by 160 pixels.

demand creates business, genius
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 1:59:43 PM #
hard work don't mean sh**. Demand for your product does. What you "deserve" has nothing to do with what you will get. That is the reality of the economic system we live in.

Have you even tried to fluctuate the price of your product to see demand? How good is the rotating screen for your product at palmgear? How much does the blurb describe its full functions? If it is anything like the average, NOT THAT GOOD AT ALL.

The shareware market, PC or Palm is a price gouging market. Some of these developers go on what they "deserve" vs. what it's really worth. Why would I ever pay a TENTH of what my Palm V cost me for a software that what... replaces what my Palm V has already come with? Are you joking? Deserve has nothing to do with it. When these so called developers are willing to accept the market and how it runs, and begin to do price changes to see more demand, that is when the earnings will come. You can't start like microsoft or sony... you have to give into the consumer first... period.

You want money? Make a product that is better than what's available freely. Make the nag-screen sensible. Make product purchase security comparable. Lastly, make it worth the money the consumer is paying. Your sense of "deserve" shouldn't be a part of the equation, Mr. Small Time.

same goes for the CD market
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 2:07:43 PM #
yeah. it's me again. Guess what? There is the issue of downloading from Napster vs. buying a CD. No way in hell will anyone buy a CD if $20 is what your price is. Do you think anyone would hesitate for a $5 CD? Absolutely not... it wouldn't even be a choice. A $5 CD that comes with the sleeve, the artwork, lyrics, factory pressed CD and is legal (not to mention, CD-DA quality vs. the 128kbps you downloaded online). But a $20 CD? No way. The download is a much better choice. Think about that... that sort of consumer-killing model has vast parallels in any market.

Don't try to screw the consumer. The consumer knows.

RE: The Trouble with palm Software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 2:16:23 PM #
There's a huge difference between screwing the consumer and a developer or any kind of artist making money off their work product. In most cases, especially in the music industry, there are many layers that add profit and margin to the price, such as the record label, the manufacturing of the product, the distributor, the retail outlet, etc. But, with Palm software, in most cases the developer either sells the software directly or has the reseller handle the sales at 20-40% of the retail price. Most developers in this segment spend their nights and weekends developing the software and a large segment do not make the money back to cover the cost of development tools, devices for testing, etc. Very few apps are above the thirty to forty dollar price range and most are under $20, less than the cost of two tickets to the movies on a Saturday night.

If you don't want to buy the software, then don't, just don't make baseless accusations of price gouging, when Palm software developers are not engaging in that.

RE: The Trouble with palm Software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 2:52:46 PM #
Some of this is true, nevertheless form factor does mean something. Consumer purchases are driven by a fragile balance between value and price. This is all based upon the CONSUMER's perception of what the value is. It is the salesperson's job to educate the consumer on the features and benefits of the device.
Some salespeople don't care about their job(minimum wage), or they are just under educated about the technology themselves.

A small handheld device seems limited in some consumer's minds. Granted it is limited compared to a desktop, but some perceive it as an overpriced sharp or casio organizer. While the palm has many, many more features that those digital day planners, the first time buyer has no idea unless they did some research, beforehand or have a knowlegeable(and considerate) salesperson.

It may take endless amounts of the developer's time and effort to develop a killer handheld app, but, if the person(s) shopping see no real value in it, the $30 price sends them on their way.

RE: The Trouble with palm Software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 4:26:39 PM #
"The shareware market, PC or Palm is a price gouging market. Some of these developers go on what they "deserve" vs. what it's really worth. "

It amazes me that the person who wrote this, has a computer at all. When I look at commercial software, I see prices from 500.00 for Microsoft Office 2000 to 50.00 for Quicken. Each new version must be purchased over and over again. (Sometimes at only a small savings).

Shareware, on the other hand, typically has better support, more frequent updates at a lower cost, and is "try it before you buy it" which means I get to actually install it and use it and then not pay for it if I don't like it. All this at a consistantly lower price the "commercial software"

Go to your local retailer and try to buy your commercial software, open the box, install and use it for 30 days and then try to take it back and ask for your money back.

I don't write programs, but I do buy them. Specifically I have bought well in access of 200 programs for my Palm under the shareware plan. Only 2 programs out of that 200 have been a disappointment and that was from an upgrade perspective.

You keep buying your commercial software in a box, and I'll keep supporting the shareware community, then we will both be happy.

RE: The Trouble with palm Software
robins19 @ 7/9/2001 7:06:06 PM #
So customers don't think they're getting their money's worth when they download software? Hmmm. Let's look at some of my recent purchases:

FROM THE NET: I get one small package with the software, intructions, maybe a manual, and sample files. The satisfaction of knowing that most if not all of the purchase price goes to the developer.

FROM THE STORE: A big box (to throw away) wrapped in plastic (to throw away). A CD with the software (need more storage space for that). Maybe a printed manual, although there's no guarantee of that anymore. A bunch of advertising flyers (still more stuff to throw away).
Finally, the certain feeling that while the developer gets some of the money, most of it goes to the store, the wholesaler, the guy who designed the fancy package, etc.

And while my own experience may not be the norm, I've generally gotten better support from web-based software distributors thatn I have from "the Big Boys."
It seems that there's an inversely-proportional relationship between the amount of money a publisher spends to get their product on store shelves, and the amount of support they offer.

surprised I have a computer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 7:17:02 PM #
Thanks for the ad hominem, Mr. Shareware supporter, but ever consider why some of these products are boxed up and sold? If your shareware market claims to be different... claims to be better than what the giants participate in, that is... charging too much for a product that essentially doesn't justify the cost... why is the shareware market so poor? Money goes where the talent lies, and instead of complaining about user ignorance, or free programs how about admitting to the lack of apparent value to a lot of these shareware titles? If these so-called weekends and long-nights invested into these products lead to a product that isn't all that good... what? Is the consumer supposed to compensate the developer for this? There is no "deserve" once again. There is only intrinsic value. In a capitalist society, this intrinsic value is dictated by _perceived_ value.

I have a computer, and I finance software that deserves a cut of my paycheck. I haven't bought a product off the shelves for years, and shareware tidbits that I buy lead to my only contribution to the software market. But hearing complaints only make it obvious that the people complaining are unwilling to simply... change their business model and attempt to offer a product that makes it _hard_ for a palm user not to try out and buy. If you think this is an off-the-wall viewpoint, try asking most and all consumers out there. No one cares about your pain, or your countless fruitless nights. What they care about is the finished product and how it will benefit them. If you are unwilling to be a part of this sort of industry, perhaps writing (no no no... not writing... SELLING) software isn't for you.


and please...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 7:27:48 PM #
there is no touchy feelie with people willing to charge me cash for software. I *care* for open source, but don't ask me to give the shopkeeper a hug after I _buy_ my ice cream. If there was any love, or any illusion of friendship, this cash exchanging hands wouldn't be so.

So what is it? A professional relationship. If that is the case, the offering needs to be of professional grade. We can either choose to be the software utopia we would love to be and charge nothing... or we adopt the capitalist way and reward effort with $$$. We cannot have a "friendship" in the latter case. Friends don't charge friends money.

If I'm paying money, I want something good. I could easily excuse my friend for mistakes and inpropriety, but unprofessional design in a product I pay for? Come on.


RE: The Trouble with palm Software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 12:51:55 PM #
I am SO happy to see this discussion, as it reflects many of the things I have said to various people in the past and have been told that I'm either cheap, or don't understand the market. I especially like the person who made all the comments that include the "price gauging" comment. While I would have stated it less confrontationally (ooo, big word), I think his comments are right on.

I have only registered two programs on my Palm devices: KarKare and Parens. Everything else I use is freeware. I use X-master instead of Hackmaster, AvantGo is free, BigClock is free, AcroRead is free, the version of AporisDoc I use is free (but limited), and all the games I play are free. I use ListDB because it is free AND fits my needs, so I don't have to buy another database. I want Quicken but won't pay their price for it. I have QuickOffice only because it came with my Handera 330, and now that I do, AportisDoc may disappear. I paid for Parens and KarKare because the price was great for the functions I got. They have added value for me.

There are two problems here as I see it. First, I won't pay a lot for software that has limited functions for a big price. Why pay $30 just so I can read documents? Charge $5, and I might do it. If I am to pay $30, it had better convert to MSWord and PDF on the Palm device or have a seamless Windows/Mac/Linux app that does the conversion, and be able to beam it to a HP printer. Then there's software that I want, but just can't see paying their price for. That's why I still use the built-in datebook instead of DateBk4. DateBk4 is a great product, but I'm not willing to pay that price for it to get the added functions, which are slowly working into the built-in datebook anyway. Which brings me to the second problem. That is, why would I buy some software when I can look around for something else that is free and fills my needs? ListDB is a good example. It's a very basic database, but it works well and is free. Now with Quicksheet I don't need ANY other database. I was about to pay for HanDBase until I found ListDB. If I had paid for it, and only then found ListDB, I would have kicked myself. I learned from that to look around THOROUGHLY for a free version of something before registering something else.

Of course, I see a trend that freeware is fading away, so that shareware or commercial software will be all that is left. That's too bad really. If the Linux world had that attitude, we wouldn't have Linux.


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 6:51:42 PM #
We all need to remember that not everybody is technical. There are alot of us out here that are users and don't know how the thing works. I'm a Manufacturing Project Manager and I like to have lots of info with me all the time. I depend on my tech friend who looks on the internet daily for new software. He has shown me where to look, but I'm sure I miss alot. I used to carry a full size (8x11) day planner and a seperate note book for work and one for church. All three are now on my Palm VIIX, these things are great.

The "study" is complete hooey

Michael Mace @ 7/9/2001 6:43:51 PM #

I haven't been able to get a copy of the Gartner "study" yet (Ed, do you have a copy?). But before this discussion goes any further I should let you know that the information quoted is utterly incorrect, at least as it applies to Palm.

We do a lot of studies on the Palm user base, and about 2/3 of our users install third party software programs.

You can easily demonstrate how wrong that 1% figure is by doing a little math. The base of Palm OS users is about 15 million. One percent of that is 150,000. For the sake of argument let's assume those people would buy an average of three applications each. That would take the total installations of Palm software to date to about 450,000 copies.

Now, go to PalmGear and add up the total downloads to date of just the top ten apps (that's top ten out of 10,800 programs). The total is about 2.6 million copies. And that's from just one website.

I don't know if the Gartner info was misquoted, or if they just got it wrong. Considering how badly they have misunderstood our business in recent months, I would not be at all surprised if they blew it again.

Palm Inc.

PS: By the way, I agree that we can and should do a lot more to educate people about the huge range of software available for Palm OS handhelds. That is a very hot topic here at Palm, and I hope you'll see some interesting results. In the meantime, thanks for helping to spread the word.

Palm, Inc.

RE: The lousy survey!
Sholey @ 7/9/2001 7:41:17 PM #
That survey is not right! I know alot people w/ a palm and most have third party software. There is a need for a national survey done on the popular palm sites like palmgear and palminfocenter ect.

To Mike, CCO
Cheetah @ 7/9/2001 8:17:40 PM #
What does the title CCO stand for? It would be great to have a high level manager from Palm read and participate at this website.

Chief Communications Officer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:44:13 PM #
I believe it stands for Chief Communications Officer, although it may be Chief Consumer Officer. There's way too many of those abbreviations.

Mike's title...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:18:00 PM #
He's our Chief Competitive Officer, and my boss.

Nice guy too, actually.

RE: Mike's title...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:44:50 PM #
Have to second that - he's also one of the best public speakers I've even encountered. I've seen him on numerous occassions speaking for Palm (and previously Apple), and was utterly moved by his drive and passion.

RE: The
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 11:40:23 PM #
Look, let's face it ... er, the Gartner people are not exactly known for being balanced in the way they present their reports. Take a look at the spin they usually put on their survey results - always very pro-M$. (You might say that they are in M$'s pocket.)

One of Palm's strengths is the undoubted support of the developer community. (The developers of over 10,000 programs can't all be wrong.) M$ are merely trying to belittle this stunning success.

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 11:50:36 PM #
Funny, I'd almost expect the Palm Employees to put their names up for that kissing-up to the boss.

Who pays for Gartner surveys?
Trevethan @ 7/10/2001 3:55:21 AM #

Couple of points:

A) Its great that people so high up at Palm take an interest in what's said here. Many doomsayers in the past have complained Palm takes little notice of the guy in the street. It looks like maybe they are now trying to keep their finger on the pulse a little.. and hopefull this will pan out into more exciting innovative products in the future.

B) Having read other Gartner reports, (they were the wazzocks that came up with the conclusion the Ipaq outsold Palm and that enterprises did not use the Palm platform. They made now mention of the fact that Palm was releasing two new models are customers were holding off purchasing), their conclusions are dubious, methodology is poor and you have to wonder who is funding the crap they turn out.

Nick Trevethan


RE: The
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 1:44:39 PM #
Chief Competitive Officer?

What a joke of a position. Hmm.. We'll pay you six figures plus options to keep the CEO informed about the competition.

Corporate welfare at its finest. As a shareholder of PALM, I'm disgusted that management and the idiot CEO Yank[me]owski is wasting shareholder's money on idiots like the CCO.

Time to fire the louts and bring back the original and still best management team from Handspring.

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 2:35:15 PM #
His other title is Vice President, Product Planning & Strategy. As a Palm stockholder, you should be pleased that the company cares that its products are better than its competitors. What's the alternative? Just hope they are?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 7:14:43 PM #
I've seen precious little evidence lately that Palm cares whether their products are better than anyone else's. You chould scan the PDABuzz forums. The vast majority of devoted Palm OS hardware users there are predicting that Palm is rapidly losing its grip on the market due to very poor innovation in the face of the...

Competition and strategy are exactly what is in short order over at Palm HQ.

And this isn't as off-topic as it seems. I'm thrilled that CCO Mike says that educating Palm users about the software out there is a "major topic," but how hard is it to the simple and logical things right away, such, as someone suggested earlier on the forum, put an item on the datebook or To Do List telling them about sites such as PalmGear? Or how about just a little card inserted in the box the Palm comes with?

Instead of merely thrusting the air with our fingers as we postulate ways to educate, lets just do it. Palm needs fewer titled positions and more sensible action.

RE: More can be done...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 10:18:06 PM #
>>how hard is it to the simple and logical things right away, such, as someone suggested earlier on the forum, put an item on the datebook or To Do List telling them about sites such as PalmGear? Or how about just a little card inserted in the box the Palm comes with? <<

Palm's done some things:
the Palm Solutions Guide by Affinity Publishing is thrown into every new Palm device box... many software solutions in it, and even a Palmgear ad everynow and then. Trouble is, this is always stuff done that benefits Palm. They likely get a "cut" of the income from advertisers, plus Affinity gets lots-o-cash...while the developers face the pressures from the market saying "we'll buy it if it costs $5 and is as good as Microsoft". Gee. Tough crowd.

The food chain always benefits most those at the top. Palm would need to give developers a hand and pull them up the food chain to change the situation. That's unlikely to happen in their current situation, no matter individual Palm employees thoughts. Capitalism demands self-preservation and profit. Palm does things that benefit Palm, Inc. The "Palm Economy" is so much of a marketing smokescreen to wow analysts at update time. Look at the dialog here about the number of "real businesses" based on Palm OS. Not many.

Lot's of guys coding from 10:30-2am... selling software for beer money. The few "real companies" based PURELY around Palm apps are few. Not avantgo, not Dataviz, not Vindigo (oh, they aren't really even a "business" yet are they...), etc...

As a device user for 5 years, I understand ALL the sides I see here. I even can understand Palm's self centered behaviors. That doesn't mean there isn't cause for complaint about pricing of apps, quality of apps, difficulty in locating "real useful or quality apps", etc. Looking at an issue from all sides can uncover possible solutions.

I am glad Palm's got someone working there with the guts to post here, name and all, and provide data. So where's the rest of the information about the "palm economy", Mike? You afraid you know more than Microsoft and holding info back? Provide the "real numbers" to contrast...

Contrasting Competition
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 1:19:00 AM #
Ha ha. "Provide the real numbers" to fix the "contrast" on my 505. Then we'll talk.

But seriously. I understand that in the business climate organizations are self-serving and favor those at the top. Yet it seems to me that by helping out those within the Palm economy (however much that may be a 10:30-2AM beer money crowd), they are helping out significant numbers of users (the bunk Gartner study notwithstanding), and the more economic activity they stimulate, the better.

By making an effort to show people the possibilites there are with a Palm device they would be more willing to buy. But education about the possibilites really isn't coming from Palm, is it? For that matter, the possibilities themselves come in a pretty limited form in the Palm OS. The wide world of power on your Palm is coming from the "beer money" crowd, and God bless them and their beers. Yet Palm repeatendly airs a superior attitude that they have nothing to do with such people--many of whom provide highly stable, intuituve products that are superior to Palm's. And thus, competition lags.

I'm not at all impressed that the CCO pays attention to the site. Obviously little of what is said is registering. I WOULD be impressed if he were willing to field mean and nasty, honest questions from us in some kind of forum. But who would dare set that up? Ed wouldn't want to endanger a good working relationship with him (he's interviewed him here before, but the questions were far tamer than what I would ask), and neither would anyone else who is in a position to do so (because they have to serve themselves, right?).

PalmGear elitism
mikecane @ 7/11/2001 11:10:16 AM #
Regarding those PalmGear numbers, they don't take into account how many people d/l something and then delete it in digust or because it wasn't what they thought it was. And too, I thought we people on the Net were the disgusting "elite" who really don't matter as Palm has said several times when trotting out their success with the m1xx series?

Underused? Really?

robins19 @ 7/9/2001 6:39:30 PM #
Besides the obvious contacts & appointments, I use my Palm to keep track of:

1. Network server IP addresses
2. Passwords for various web accounts
3. Installation instructions, server locations and installation keys
4. Commonly-encountered error messages for specific applications
5. Paging aliases--who's in a given group
6. My GPS system
7. Spreadsheets w/ ferry & bus schedules
8. Various notes & reminders
9. MS Word documents I'm currently revising
10. A couple of novels to pass the time in doctor, dentist and airport waiting rooms
11. ThinkDB--much more effective for storing certain types of data than an address book, datebook or memo pad
...and I still have 36% RAM empty. Is there anything I'm underutilizing on my 4Mb Palm IIIx? Nope, don't think so.

This Doesn't Compute!

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 7:41:59 PM #
If there are something like 17 million Palm devices out there, then, according to Gartner, something like 170,000 users have ever put third party applications on their handhelds.

If you go to, and add up the downloads for the 50 most popular applications, you get a total of 7,127,431 downloads.

So if Gartner is to be believed, each of those 170,000 savvy users is personally responsible for downloading (on average) 42 applications.

Seems unreasonable to me.

RE: This Doesn't Compute!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:16:49 PM #
You are right. But there is one aspect of your calculations which you may need to be careful about - every time shareware is updated existing users will usually download the upgrade and others may want to try it again. So multiple upgrades vastly overstates the number of downloads in terms of it being a proxy for the installed user base. As an outright guess, I'd say that less than the registered user base would be less than say 5% of the download figure. (I willing to be proved wrong by any developer who has some hard figures.)

RE: This Doesn't Compute!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 8:03:21 PM #
The figures from Palmgear are for specific versions, so your comment about upgrading users inflating the count doesn't hold water...

RE: This Doesn't Compute!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 9:24:43 PM #
Wrong. The counts continue for upgrades...on each software titles "info page" are two numbers: Total downloads since day 1 and "so far this month". Only the monthly numbers start over, and that is tied (more or less) to the first day of the month.


It's all about the beaming

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 8:19:01 PM #
While relatively few Palm users are sophisticated enough to monitor the Palm sites and download software, lots of others get software beamed to them by people who are. I, for one, have beamed software to lots of people who wouldn't know from the palm reader down the street.

(How many people have registered the things beamed to them is another question ... But it's a lot less intimidating for those people to register something than to download, install, AND register it.)

The ^nswer is! :)]

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 9:13:39 PM #
I'd agree. Just as most PC's sit and play soltaire, go to porn sites on the web-but, as more users come online(into) the palm community more users will begin using their Palms for what they are. For example, my uses are email, data for work, Home-activist work. Oh yeah games, contacts of course.
Now for Software prices? Sorry, Im a pirate at present-sailing the www as sinbad for my software needs. I do buy but now money is tight.- spare the me the how can you afford a Palm? Money always wasn't tight and shareware is better than commercial stuff

Not many pay for software

Legible @ 7/9/2001 9:58:15 PM #
I know a Palm developer whose app was downloaded a few thousand times since launch a couple months ago. However, he told me that less than 1% of the users actually registered (pay for it). And this is an app that's rated 5 stars by ZD-NET!

From this first-hand experience, I'm not doubtful that the majority of Palm shareware authors shall have a hard time to make money.

RE: Not many pay for software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:41:45 PM #
Well as a counter point... a guy I know develops one the best (according to reviews and my experience) time calculator/travel apps for the Palm - CityTime. And apparently he's doing pretty damn well for himself - from 1 title.

RE: Not many pay for software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/9/2001 10:46:18 PM #
In my opinion, this means nothing. Having a 5 star rating may direct people's attention to the software, and let them try it out (if there is a demo version). They try it, don't like it, delete it.

What is the big deal ? If your buddy doesn't like it, then he shouldn't even offer a trial version and go for broke by trying to sell his software, hoping people will just buy it as is without trial. Good luck.

There are just too many applications out there, and some of them really good ones. I try out a lot of software and delete a lot as well.

But your friend is only one... There are many others who are making money, and rightfully so.

5 Star rating from ZDNET ? Ha

Examples: Abroad! (Travel software) - 5 star rating. Tried it, just for the heck of it, deleted it. Has nothing to do with the fact that I like using demo-software. All it was, I was directed to the software purely by the 5 star rating, nothing more. I wasn't even looking for travel software, but curious me, I had to try it out, didn't like it (didn't need it) and deleted it. Big deal.

If software developers really want to make money, I agree with another comment that has been made here, "Don't copy already existing apps, make something original, useful and user-friendly."

Don't expect users to come in droves to your rescue in buying applications that already exist, usually better anyway, or are just copied of freeware software without anything else added, with the exception of a different interface.

Uh, another thing, Avantgo software, is free, and even though they are losing money (now, and who knows if they ever will) the company is worth 68.5 million Dollars!, go figure. It is a great application and I am sure, many people would be even willing to pay for it. That is the trick, get something great out there and quit whining.

and again, 5 star ratings mean nothing, unless YOU, the USER want it. It doesn't mean the application is that great.

Reviews you read here and there ditto.

CNET review on Palm M505:
ZDNet review on Palm M505: 7.8 (out of 10)

I have an M505 and don't care what people say, I love it and wouldn't trade it for anything that is available right now.
I don't want a PPC for several reasons, biggest of them all is their size and OS.

Does that mean that the ZDNet 7.8 is a valid number ? All depends on who you are. In my opinion, the price was a bit high, but I am more than happy with all other aspects, therefore, 7.8 in my opinion is wrong and should be a 9. But who am I ?

Go read some reviews on MSNBC, PPC vs. Palm products, you "might" be surprised anout a subtle hint of "biasedness" towards PPC products, who just happen to run on the "MS" part of MSNBC.... But no, we read reviews and take it all for granted, like lemmings, we are supposed to take it and go out and buy it (or scrap it if the review was bad).

aaaah, feeling better now. :)

RE: Not many pay for software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 12:08:57 AM #
Asa for number of downloads vs. registrations my program has been downloaded 1500 times on palm gear and we have 200+ registered users. We have only been live since April 2001 and have a 30 day trial so that means really only May and June.

We are now negotiating two separate site licenses (one a medical school distributing Palm Vx to 3rd year medical students and the other a residency program distributing Visors to their interns) for companies distributing palms

I expected closer to 1% of downloads to become sales so we are tickled.

I think the keys are to be unique and focused and best in category. Our program is targeted at pediatricians, a group with very little Palm software and we have only one competitor and we kick their a$$.

Its not a middle class living but it is a lucrative hobby.

RE: Not many pay for software
wilco @ 7/10/2001 1:03:21 AM #
Let me guess, your product is R.K., right? It's really feature-packed and well-designed. I did try it out but sorry, I am not a pediatrician, so I will not register. But that's part of the point, not all who download the product will register. Not because they go for pirate products but because they had no use for the software and only downloaded out of curiosity.
R.K., your products really targetted quite nicely, the professional market are a high-income group who will "pay" for their software, so the percentage of legitimate users vis-a-vis warez ones are much higher than say, the games market. It's really nice to see a developer satisfied with his effort.
Finally, another factor weighing down on third party apps is the sheer amount of "Junk" apps written primarily with PDA Toolbox. A casual newbie who downloaded a few of such stuffs will be hisheartened and stop looking further. (No offense to PDA Toolbox, it's a great program.)

RE: Not many pay for software
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 3:53:25 AM #
Your point about CityTime is a good one. I can't help feeling though that this may be an exception to the general rule. Two points here: i) CityTime is prepackaged on every Handspring - even if the developer gets a royalty of just $1 each, that's not a bad result; ii) The CityTime developer is an Aussie (I think) - the way the A$ is going, getting paid in US$ is a very big thing.

This thread is TOO long!!

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 12:02:01 AM #
Why pay for a 1-411 call? I don't. With my kyo6035 smartphone couple times I've sat in my car in a parking lot to do online directory assistance with either:

Verizon Smartpages
Dex Yellow Pages
Yahoo People Search

Then go to mapquest to get a map and directions.


I've read this whole thread and found two themes:

1)why aren't more people using 3rd party apps
2)why don't people register shareware

As to the first, every palm sold should have pre-installed a memo pad memo giving new users detailed instructions on how to download and install third party apps with some example download locations such as

As to the 2nd, that problem is not exclusive to palm software. Note that MSFT is so fed up with piracy they have have introduced new schemes in their XP family of products to inhibit the casual pirate from burning and lending.


I followed the evolution of palms since the first pilot by playing with the demos at Computer City. I knew graffiti before I actually bought a palm. Finally, the Palm IIIe reached my price point. Within a year I stopped looking for 3rd party software, because the 2 megs was full. I quickly and easily replaced all the paperwork where I work using 3rd party apps.

I was ready to make the big buck upgrade when Verizon introduced the Kyocera 6035. One device, one wireless bill, 2000 free weekend minutes for surfing, quick connect data isp (no extra charge), outbound SMTP server, texas minute bank so unused weekday minutes roll over.

The things you can do with a 6035 are too numerous to meantion (checkout One thing I've been playing with lately is PalmIRC to engage in realtime chat forums. I've also checked out theatre movie listings and times. I've plugged in UPC codes from products in stores and checked it out online. Everytime I walk the dog I browse the web (including this site) for stuff to read while the dog does it's thing. I've entered email at Barnes and Noble coffee shop. While reading computer magazines at Barnes and Noble, I'll frequently browse to web sites listed in articles and advertisements. I'll checkout stock quotes for my boss when the computer is down at work. When the power goes out I'll be calling TXU Electric in pitch darkness with my backlit 6035 using the speakerphone. When I want to price compare something, I'll checkout what people have recently paid for stuff on ebay and yahoo auctions using Fleabay.

I could go on and on, but I don't think Ed has enough hardisk space. :-)

Original Concept was open source
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 8:48:46 PM #
If you research a little, you will find that Jeff Hawkins didn't envision 10,000 apps for his little invention. He simply wanted succinct computing power, ease of user input and portability. Any engineer can look at a breadboard and tell you what size box it will fit in, and Moore's law tells us that the size will continue to shrink as the power increases. What surprised everyone in the consumer electronics market (I believe Jeff and Donna were likewise surprised) is how quickly the open source was adopted by programmers who found it took days instead of months to develop a decent program. So college CS majors and unemployed hackers (probably one and the same) could try their hand at programming for the Palm OS. What great innovations have come along that way! But a lot of junk, too.

So people vote with their dollars, and I admit I have carried naggy shareware long past evaluation, but only because I felt the reg code too pricey. I have tried and bought only a small handful of apps I felt were worth more than $9.99: Ultrasoft Money (cost me as much as MS Money), Flashpro, Datebook4, Treksounds, Franklin Covey, QuickOffice, the Scriptures, and a few others. The authors of those programs got something from me, and I got something from them, and hopefully we are mutually satisfied. But, for someone to gripe they didn't get paid for all their labor must remember that development costs take awhile to recoup.

According only to Marxism is something worth more simply because of the labor expended to produce it. I realize it takes a lot of late nights, pizza and coke to write software, but you don't get reimbursed for it with your first five sales. It takes product placement, marketing, management, product support and ultimately, the prospective buyer has to feel it is worth the exchange price. If the product is desired and priced within the market, the consumer willingly exchanges his hard earned coin gor your product. That is how capitalism works.

Not Unique to PDAs

GrouchoMarx @ 7/10/2001 1:27:44 AM #
Most people don't install many 3rd party apps on their desktops, either. Think about why bundling deals are so important for companies (and why Microsoft's insistence that OEMs only bundle their apps is such a problem :-) ). You use the OS, you use the web browser that came with it (that's how IE took over the market), you use the office apps that came with it (MS Works or MS Office), and more often than not one of the ISPs that got "premium placement" on the desktop. Most users of *any* computerized system use primarly what it comes with. We could debate for hours whether that's due to lack of knowledge, lack of ability, lack of interest, laziness, stupidity, righteousness, or whathaveyou, but the bottom line is that people buy a "system" and expect that it is finished. They buy the hardware, and figure the software that it comes with is what it comes with. PC, Palm, PocketPC, same difference. You don't install 3rd party software on a stereo, so why should you on a computer? The concept of a general purpose computing device has simply not reached the masses, and probably never will.


RE: Not Unique to PDAs
sub_tex @ 7/10/2001 9:57:15 AM #
I don't agree totally on some things there.

If Joe Shmoe were to walk in to a CompUSA/Staples, etc. to buy a computer, he has to look all but 5 feet away to see the racks and racks of games, software, etc. Almost have of the computer section in any store that sells them will have many titles.

So, the average computer user (at least that i'v ecome across) at least KNOWS about all the other software. You can see them browsing the shelves and looking at the pretty packaging. Whether or not they are confident to knwo how to install it, etc. is something else entirely.

This is the biggets difference with Palm devices. There's practicslly NOTHING for the first time user to look at aside from hardware. And yeah yeah yeah the sales guy could say, "hey, go to to download more software." but come on....

IT's pretty sad how many people won't look at software distributed over the net because they want to 'look at the box' so to speak. I've had conversations where people actually told me that. Very very weird, but people do weirder things.

your comment of "You don't install 3rd party software on a stereo, so why should you on a computer?" just is plain silly, though.

Even my grandmother doesn't associate the word "install" with a stereo. but she would with a computer - wouldn't know what the heck it meant, don't get me wrong - but it would be chucked up to those 'technical' people.

I Agree.

SWH @ 7/10/2001 8:47:20 AM #
I know I use my handheld for mainly contacts & appointments, yet I am finding that if I try to I use Avantgo to read Palm news. Additionally, I use Documents To Go to keep our employee schedule with me and important doc files. So it's just a matter of finding the right apps. I've had a Palm based handheld for 4 years.

Not surprised

flashk @ 7/10/2001 9:26:34 AM #
Lets see the 4 hardware buttons are: datebook, address, to-do list & memos. Looks like it was mainly designed as a PIM to me. ThinkDB is extremely useful, but few people even know what a table join is. These analysts have to think differently. That's like saying MS Word is being under utilized because not all of it's features aren't being used because a lot of people are not using all of it'e features. Too many people are also unwilling to learn new things. Heck most Nokia 8850 users didn't even bother to know about what that IR thing is :)
RE: Not surprised
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 9:16:58 PM #
>> Lets see the 4 hardware buttons are: datebook, address, to-do list & memos. Looks like it was mainly designed as a PIM to me

Nonsense!! One every PC there is a keyboard, so computer is just a typewriter?

Don't forget there is a mouse and icons on the screen and if you move the mouse pointer over to the icon, you can do many things!

RE: Not surprised
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 8:00:23 AM #
>> Lets see the 4 hardware buttons are:

for me - Datebk3, Address, Life Balance/Titrax, CryptoPad/BigTime and Abacus (using EasyLaunch and X-Master to run 2 apps off some of the buttons). For the record, I don't consider myself to be a "power user" or some sort of geek. Its just that after you've had the Palm for a while and try a few different shareware apps, you realise what potential the Palm has for delivering truly PERSONAL computing.

(End of sermon.)

If a tree falls...

Tino @ 7/10/2001 9:44:37 AM #
I don't know if the study is accurate, but it seems to me an easy thing to check. (by the way am I the only one that thinks it's totally cool that the COO of Palm uses this awesome service?) By definition the persons 'under-utilizing their PDA will have no voice here. (... in the forest with no one around, will it make a sound?) The solution is simple take the total number of PDAs sold and then ask Palmgear how many individual users they sell software to, the math should be simple.

My Palm...

Brette Blatchley @ 7/10/2001 12:24:36 PM #
My Palm is a faithful companion: It is my "legal pad," my Bible, my drawing-board, my egg-timer, my alarm-clock, my toy, my newspaper, my dictionary, my phone-list, my gift-list, my middle-of-the-night idea journal, my night-lite, my puzzle, my novel, my calculator, my programming-platform, my calendar, my erotica, my emailer, my web browser, my teaching assistant, my personal coach, my Palm. Every bit as useful and pervasive as my flesh-and-blood palm, it is the single material possession I most use and cherish and and one I would most hate to loose!

(Imagine my 3 weeks while it was undergoing screen repair!)

RE: My Palm...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 11:43:18 PM #
(Sorry for posting anon, just don't want people to read this the wrong way and get flamed.)

> companion: It is my "legal pad," my Bible, [...],
> my erotica, [...]

Hmmm...somehow those two don't seem to fit. ;-)

RE: My Palm...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 5:03:19 AM #
hmm ... well he never said what kind of Bible he was talking about, did he.

RE: My Palm...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/12/2001 1:23:21 PM #
Actually, these are not mutually exclusive:

Have you ever read "Song of Solomon"?

I'm a married adult, and God permits (yes even encourages) me to enjoy my sexuality bacause I'm engaging in it on His terms.

The Bible is use is Laridian's "New International Version." ($29) and the erotica I refered to way PalmSutra (freeware sex manual).

-Brette Blatchley

RE: My Palm...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/5/2002 12:53:53 PM #
how much was the screen repair?

RE: Not Unique to PDAs

altema @ 7/10/2001 1:10:21 PM #
I know what you mean about there not being software in the retail brick and mortar stores. Most have just the Palms, and a couple of disks which are only a collection of demoware. The sales people are not a big help either. Some will insist that they sell registered apps... until they actually read the back of the box (for the first time). There is also a mis-conception with users who think that the four buttons are for the only apps which are SUPPOSED to be there. But if you want to use it as just an address book and scheduler, you don't need an ominous row of hard buttons or a clunky user interface. What bothers me is when people will assume a Palm cannot do something just because of it's easy interface. I know of at least one person who dumped their Palm because it could not do spreadsheets. Most everyone reading this knows that Palm can do spreadsheets in aces. There are several that blow Pocket Excel right out of the water,.. but you walk into a store and look at nothing except a few games and utilities. Conclusion for the Palm user who does not know where else to go: If they don't see it on the shelf, then the Palm must not be able to do it.

The good news in this though, is that it highlights the tremendous flexibility of Palms. If you want the latest and greatest in handheld word processing, database management, or spreadsheets, your Palm will do it. If you want it only for the basics, there is nothing to complicate or hinder that desire.

One Pecent

Ted Schriever @ 7/10/2001 2:11:16 PM #
Like most good things in life worth keeping they are an evolution not a revolution and considering this little palm I hold in my hand has only been around as long as I have fingers on my hand I wolud say we are on a fast track.

Won't pay!

MH @ 7/10/2001 2:48:44 PM #
If it is free-I have tried it! I am too cheap to pay for something that may not be worth while. I have tried City Time and agree that it is good. However, I don't need it bad enough to pay for it! Where is more free stuff?

Palm software listing

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 2:52:48 PM #
I think that Palmgear/Palm software listing should be re-categorised. The way the site is set-up is fine IF you know what you want and what is possible but if not…
These folks should IMHO use categories like “MS Excel compatible Spreadsheets” or “Word Processors – MSWord Compatible”.
Another possibility would be a FAQ type set-up “How do I carry a spreadsheet on my Palm?”

RE: Palm software listing
Cutting @ 7/10/2001 9:33:36 PM #
Yeah, cool.
We'll vote for that.

Mike Compeau
Cutting Edge Software, Inc.

Correction from Gartner Group

Michael Mace @ 7/10/2001 3:06:08 PM #
In case anyone's interested, here's the correction we received from Gartner Group today:

"This came from me. I think it was somewhat misinterpreted in the article.
Again, I cannot control what people print.

What I meant was

When people INITIALLY buy a PDA (out of the box):

100% of them use the contact manager
60% of them use the calendar
15% do email
5% use the browser
1 - 2% add-on some other application

But as time goes on the 1% use grows much higher. And the reason they buy
one brand or another is because they can get to thousands of applications.
Palm is of interest to them because of these other applications whether they
use them at the outset or not. It's the promise of using them that causes
them to buy brand A over brand B."

Back to Mike: I think it is true that people generally learn to do more with their handhelds over time. I hope we'll reduce that learning curve in the future.

Michael Mace
Chief competitive officer
Palm, I

Palm, Inc.

RE: Correction from Gartner Group
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 4:16:25 PM #
Out of the box?

Geez these Gartner guys are are very dumb.. or perhaps not dumb in slanting their questions in this way.

An out of the box survey is about as useful as a chocolate barbeque.. To tell the truth I didn't use my PDA straight out of the box at all as it needed a 2 hour stint in the charger.

The survey definitately detracts from Palm.. after all Palm has all the software available. If some un-informed person gets fed the line "Only 1% of users install third party software... the Gartner Group said so..." by some dopey salesman looking to flog some WinCE product, Palm loses one of its major selling points.

Gartner Group need to stop carrying out half arsed surveys like this and they need to make some kind of statement re-iterating the premise of this survey...

Experts like this are 10 a penny.. and unfortunately you get what you pay for....

This dumb survey would be far more useful

RE: Correction from Gartner Group
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2001 9:31:29 PM #
Hi Mike,

As a vendor for Palm, I see a complete lack of knowledge on the part of the consumer on available 3rd party software. I show programs every day that people beg me to tell them more about, and ask where to buy it. I point them to as the way to obtain software. Why can't Palm include either in it's packaging or possibly in the built in memos or addresses that come up when you first start your palm, a blurb on where to obtain 3rd party software.

When my wife first gave me a Palm Personal, it almost went into the desk drawer with my other organizers, until I researched on the net and found out I could add programs to make my Palm, something unique and personal. This needs to be done with the average consumer who does not want to research the net like I did. It would is an important factor in buying a Palm product in the first place, and needs to be better utilized.


RE: Correction from Gartner Group
CarlJ @ 7/11/2001 12:00:01 AM #
Actually, they've already added a memo that tells about third-party software (quoting from PalmOS 4.0's Memo Pad app):
Download Free Applications

You can easily download lots of freeware, shareware, and commercial applications from the Internet. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select and download applications from any Palm related web site (e.g.
  2. If the downloaded application is a Zip file, unzip its contents to the add-on folder in the Desktop Software directory (e.g., c:\palm\add-on).
  3. Open the Palm Desktop software and click Install (or run the Install Tool from the Palm Desktop software directory). Then click Add. Select the applications you want to install. Click Open, then click Done.
  4. Perform a HotSync operation to transfer your new applications to your handheld.
Maybe not perfect, but they're getting there. And since Palm has incorporated PalmGear into their website ( is PalmGear with a different look), pointing people to is a pretty good start.

RE: Correction from Gartner Group
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 12:58:08 AM #
better than pointing to the web why doesn't Palm burn a CD with the 200 greatest share ware programs and throw it in the box.

The developers will love it, the uninformed or intimidated might be reassured b/c "it came with the palm"

And it makes the palm more valuable by getting people to use 3rd party apps.

RE: Correction from Gartner Group
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 7:49:46 AM #
>> better than pointing to the web why doesn't Palm
>> burn a CD with the 200 greatest share ware programs >> and throw it in the box.

Second that. Palm could start with the Palm Certified software - what better incentive for developers to sign up for the programme!

RE: Correction from Gartner Group
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 8:13:02 AM #

Probably cost say a buck for each CD but the marketing angle is awesome eg. "200 free programs to try" in big friendly letters on every box or on big posters at every store ... you get the idea. (Mike, are you taking notes?)

Come to think of it, didn't Palm try something like that with some sorta Education Pack a while back?

RE: Correction from Gartner Group
Michael @ 7/12/2001 3:09:48 PM #
Yes, I am taking notes.

Stay tuned. I can't promise that we will do everything (a lot of other stuff is on the plate), but we'll do our best.

Thanks, and keep the ideas coming.

Palm Inc.


sinbad :)] @ 7/10/2001 3:27:50 PM #
Err? What is the point of arguing over issues u may disagree on? State a fact change a mind, go on a bender-lose it in the ender!


marcos avellan @ 7/10/2001 4:10:34 PM #
Article makes sense...I know several palm owners who are unaware or even reluctant once they become aware of apps like docs to go, avantgo, printboy etc.- Pretty weird!

[ No Subject ]

Terence(HK) @ 7/11/2001 4:22:32 AM #
I think this situation is due to the need for pay for such softwares and services. In my stand, I prefer browsing the web through desktop computer, and the PDA is just an assistant for my daily life. I don't think it is worth to pay extra money for the Palm's modem, bluetooth connector, etc.

One man meat and man poison

Richard @ 7/11/2001 4:58:07 AM #
It is very subjective area. If the person A uses those palm softwares fully such as travel information, currency convertor, Avango News. Then he probably utilise the feasture of the tools.

But you have Person Z whom is so use to tradational diary. Then will only use asic tools such as Calendar, contact.

Its human mindset that must go through the stag of accept the change, grow with the change and maximise the tools.

Compared to my co-workers, I rock!

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 8:38:16 AM #
When I read about this article, it did not surprise me. I still get quizzical looks from my co-workers,
bosses, and onlookers when I product my Handspring, plug it into my Stowaway keyboard, and
proceed to use my WordSmith, MiniCalc, HandBase, or any other application on my PDA. When
I talk with others, they are still using their Palm/Handspring for basic things like memos, to dos,
and appointments. They are fascinated when I tell them all the things I do with mine.

In response to this, I wrote an article detailing how project managers can use their PDA to
manage projects. You'll find it at .

One Percent

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 9:11:11 AM #
Humm, Bottom line thinging always runs a muck! A little out side of the Palm thinking please.
So far as your investment loses I think you might have gotten scamed according to the previous story. Good luck with the law suit.
If your not in it for the evolution you might what to switch palms.
Might I suggest Handspring.

Won't pay!

MH @ 7/11/2001 10:38:45 AM #
If it is free-I have tried it! I am too cheap to pay for something that may not be worth while. I have tried City Time and agree that it is good. However, I don't need it bad enough to pay for it! Where is more free stuff?

No duh

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/11/2001 3:36:20 PM #
"Update: Michael Mace, Palm's Chief Competitive Officer, talked to the analyst at the Gartner Group and was told these figures are true only immediately after the purchase of the Palm. As time passes, a higher percentage of users install third-party applications."

Yah, like nobody buys apps for the PDA afterwords. What fool believes that???

Anyone who follows PDA's knows that the top sites are software related. The analyst must have never used a PDA before.

This is another case where they talked before they thought what they were going to say.

What a thread!

mikecane @ 7/12/2001 9:50:29 AM #
Despite the one or two ad hominem comments, overall this has been a very informative thread with plenty of ideas! Applause to all of you.

1% ???

w. van hooste @ 7/13/2001 4:13:39 AM #
Please do wake up.
My Palm was only one hour out of the box and AvantGo was already syncing. And still after one year it gets verry heavely used 4 buissiness. Including all my apps.!


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