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Handhelds Hardware

Handspring Delays Treo, Plans To Drop Organizer Line 293

Posted by timothy
from the waiting-for-a-visor-sale dept.
backlonthethird writes: "http://www.palminfocenter.com has the scoop on Handspring's triple announcements yesterday. CEO Donna Dubinsky says they're dropping "Organizers," (i.e. visors?), and most of their new Treos are going to Europe because of a parts shortage. At least their losses this past quarter aren't as bad as people were expecting--they claim profitability by this Summer. What the heck is going on over there?"
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Handspring Delays Treo, Plans To Drop Organizer Line

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  • Makes sense. (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Doktor Memory (237313)
    The market for PDAs in the states is collapsing, and Handspring's wireless devices are depending on a functioning GSM network, which is still semi-mythical in the states.

    All I know is that if they don't offer a trade-in program for my VisorPhone, someone's gonna get hurt.
    • In a way, it does -- but what is the deal with GSM, anyway?

      Yes, all of Europe uses it -- but invariably, whenever Motorola et al introduce some snazzy new phone, it's GSM-only first. What, they don't care about any American early adopters??? Going with GSM with the Treo means throwing away the three biggest cellular providers in the US.
    • That's interesting, because my Handspring relies on CDMA I believe, through Sprint PCS. Or are you talking about just one of their springboard products?
    • Re:Makes sense. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheMCP (121589) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @07:12PM (#2851675) Homepage
      The market for PDAs in the states is collapsing, and Handspring's wireless devices are depending on a functioning GSM network, which is still semi-mythical in the states.
      GSM may be one of the least popular systems in the US, but it's the system everywhere else. Why do you think every other country has more advanced phones than we do? Because phone manufacturers can make one model and sell it all over the world, but then they have to re-engineer it five different ways to make five different models to bring it to market in the US.

      So, mostly they don't bother - they sell all their interesting models everywhere else, and sell a few models in the US that are most easily re-engineered to work here.

      My friends at Nokia tell me the phones we have here are 2 or 3 years behind Europe.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    PocketPC is eating their lunch.

    Microsoft has got its Marketing feelers into every nook and cranny they can see.

    Ever seen those Dockers commercials? iPaq in the pocket.

    PocketPC vs Palm on buses and airport terminals...

    PocketPCs on primetime television.

    Palm and PalmOS suppliers are hurting. Microsoft is killing them. And the funny thing is that they are being killed by a better product. None of that "unfair bundling" crap to complain about.
    • And the funny thing is that they are being killed by a better product.

      ...or the market for PDAs has shifted from tech-savvy geeks (all of whom I know own a Palm-alike PDA) to marketdroids who know only Windows software. Think about it - with tech employees getting laid off left and right, who's got the cash to buy a new PDA? You got it: PHB does, and he Doesn't Understand Anything But Windows.

      Personally, when I bought my PDA, I tried the iPaq and a Visor, and the Visor was the better product, hands-down. And it cost $200 less. So I bought it. Don't delude yourself into thinking that because a market shifted, PocketPCs are necessarily better products. The market's different, that's all. What you should be worried about is why the market's different, and what role (if any) Microsoft plays in that market. :)
      • Sorry, but Palm is most definitely not the choice of the tech savvy user. Its very limited hardware and OS are both way behind the times and Microsoft is increasing the gap more by the day. Here's a very accurate description of why Palm is in such trouble: http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1006-201-8480246-0.htm l [cnet.com]

      • WinCE devices are much better for 'geeks' then palms. large, color screens, lots of expandablity, not to mention a powerfull multithreaded OS to play with and a nice (now free) Dev kit.

        The palm may be 'simple and elegant' but I don't want simple and elegant, I want a real computer. with all the features and functionality of a deskop. And I can get that with WinCE.
    • by fmaxwell (249001) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @04:05PM (#2850495) Homepage Journal
      And the funny thing is that they are being killed by a better product.

      No, they're being killed by a different product. The Palm OS machines are intended to be inexpensive, practical organizers -- not undersized laptops or $500 status symbols. Palms trade things like MP3 playback and glitzy graphics for battery life, light weight, small size, and low price.

      Palm OS devices are incredibly practical to someone who needs a powerful organizer for their work -- which is why medical professionals love them. For some kid that's looking for a fancier version of a Gameboy to impress the other kids, the PocketPC machines may be appealing:

      Dudez, im righting this email on my iPaq and listening to a Rancid MP3! iPaqs rule! Palms are seriously gay!

      The grown-ups will continue to buy Palm as long as they are available.
    • Palm and PalmOS suppliers are hurting. Microsoft is killing them. And the funny thing is that they are being killed by a better product.

      I find it amusing that you think that the OS with 80% marketshare is getting 'killed'. Right.

      None of that "unfair bundling" crap to complain about.

      No, I'll just complain about Microsoft using existing monopolies to create a new one in the PDA OS sector (which is illegal). Microsoft is leveraging Windows by virtue of developer lockin, and is leveraging Office by virtue of proprietary file formats ("view Word and Excel e-mail attachments right on your iPaq!"). I hope Microsoft gets slammed for it.

      299,792,458 m/s...not just a good idea, its the law!

  • Big deal (Score:3, Funny)

    by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:38PM (#2850284) Homepage
    I drop my organizer all the time, and I don't have to fold up a company to pay for the replacement...
    Tatsujin
  • PocketPC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by VAXGeek (3443) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:39PM (#2850291) Homepage
    The reason Handspring/Palm are having so much trouble is, in fact, the PocketPC. Now, you can pooh-pooh them all you want, say WinCE is bloated, the machines are overpowered, they chew through battery like nobody's business, whatever. The FACT is, when you sit down a person in front of a machine running PalmOS and a machine running WinCE, the WinCE machine is IMMEDIATELY more impressive. People see PocketWord and PocketExcel. Don't dismiss the value of name brand recognition. Even the fact that the machines run Windows make them less intimidating to people. If you grab a hold of a WinCE machine, immediately you are right at home with a Start button, etc. On PalmOS, you have to familiarize yourself with the device, strange interface, Graffiti. I'm not saying PalmOS doesn't have its spot, I'm just saying a niche won't support enough users for a company to stay afloat. A long used comparision is Windows : Linux :: WinCE : PalmOS. Sure, anyone that REALLY knows what they're doing will have a Palm, but that ratio must be like 1/100, which is NOT enough to keep a whole company alive. Unless Palm/Handspring pack more features into their offerings, they are going to go under, and in a big way. Never underestimate the value of shiny things.
    • Re:PocketPC (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheViffer (128272)
      the machines are overpowered

      Gawd .. the day I say this about any computer is the day I realize that I am to old. :-P
      • Overpowered ain't possible when you can plug into an outlet. When you need to be stretching out a battery that weighs about an ounce for a couple of days, and preferably more, it's a different story.

        Chris Mattern
    • About the only thing that's helping Palm right now is that they still have the majority of the market share - mainly because:

      • They were first.
      • They're still cheaper.


      I noticed the new Clei (Clie? whatever) lines have built in Word/Excel ability - something that shows that Sony at least gets the basic idea.

      I have a Palm 505, and I've been lusting after the Clie (of course, I've been lusting after a Mac too, but I'm not sure if I want to spend $2000 to give up Linux. Separate topic.). About the one thing that would help is if Palm would force everybody to standardize on compact flash, since no add-ons for any Palm OS device work with any other. (Grrr...)
      • Palm wasn't the first such device on the market, though. They were just the first to have a decent price and a good interface *designed to work as a PDA*, not attempting to be a desktop replacement in your pocket. They still win on both counts.
    • Re:PocketPC (Score:2, Insightful)

      > I'm just saying a niche won't support enough users for a company to stay afloat.

      You do realize that companies in other niche markets include everything from Apple to Rolex. Just because it's a niche doesn't mean that it can be profitable.

      Also, the most cited reason that the Palm PDA's did so well in the near past was that they were *simpler* than other PDA's. Shiny's great for the demo, but gets in the way and adds to the cost of the real product.
    • Don't diss Graffiti. I've had a go with it and found it much easier to work with than the handwriting software on Pocket PC 2000 (both the builtin stuff and the version on the additional CD I've got).
    • Re:PocketPC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kisrael (134664) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @04:11PM (#2850532) Homepage
      Unfortunately, once you start using the "start button" etc, you'll find out that the Desktop metaphor has scaled very, very poorly.

      All my friends use Palm (save this one guy). The trouble is they all use old PalmVs and the like, and see no need to upgrade; Palm has hurt itself by making a perfectly adequate product from its first few generations. (Like, once it added the backlight...)

      I was playing with that one guy's iPaq, and even he couldn't explain how to use part of WinCE; specifically opening a document (I forget if we wanted to open it in pocket IE or whatever, but all the usual manipulations of the "filesystem" didn't do the trick, plus the "magic synching" sucked much ass), and then manipulating one of the menus of his GPS map program so that all the directional arrows were visible (not to mention dialog boxes that were scaled to be 3 times the width of the screen, so you had to scroll just to be able to hit OK)

      I don't know about the future; it will be a race of Palm getting itself out of some technological corners its painted itself into, and hardware becoming powerful yet battery efficient enough for WinCE to make sense, with Microsoft making improvements to their basic organizer functionality.
      • Re:PocketPC (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dark Paladin (116525)
        I'm wondering if the purchase of BeOS will help with this.

        Since Palm is making their move to the Strongarm processor, and BeOS was touted for having a great interface, cool filesystem, etc (and not having used BeOS before their demise, I can't comment on how good or bad it is), but it should be possible to imagine a Palm system which actually does some cool multimedia, and with the Metadata part of the filesystem, can make things like document editing/mp3 playing, etc a snap for developers and users.

        Remember - Palm did well first because it takes one button to get to whatever you want. If they can use the BeOS pieces to their advantage with the more powerful processors (without sacrificing battery power), the game might still be an interesting one to watch.

        I love competition. ;).
      • He couldn't tell you how to open a document?

        Offense intended. Does your friend have a brain? Do you?

        When you start almost all PocketPC apps that interact with files they drop you into a tree view or an open dialog. Perhaps you meant open it with a different program then the one registered to open it from the file explorer?

        Syncing works well. I have file synced from my IPAQ to my desktop and to yahoo. Contacts/Appointments are also synced to my desktop, yahoo and to my ericcson t39 phone. What part "sucked ass"?

        Also how is crappy GPS software the fault of the OS?

        The PocketPC OS still has a ways to go to impress me, but as it stands it is a hell of a lot better than the Palm crap people are grasping onto. So far only two pocket OS's have been good, NewtonOS and Psion's.
        • Yes, we both have brains. He was an experienced designer, I was an experienced software guy. The UI was just bad. I forget the exact task we were trying to do, but yes, it probably had to do with the registration of a file he had just synched over with his desktop. We attacked from both the open dialog of the app, and from the file explorer, and got nuthin.

          The synching was crap. It may have improved, but he had mentioned that it tended to crash very, very badly, and that he had heard tht was a known problem. Also, from a higher level standpoint, I'd debate the wisdom of "you don't have to press a button to synch"...it sounds great from a marketing standpoint, but in practice, I'd rather have control of when data is transferred, not just hope the daemon has woken up and done what it needed to.

          The crappy GPS app seemed to be using basic, lowlevel OS functionality for the dynamic toolbars, they looked more or less like the same thing under IE. I've seen a few apps that didn't handle the screen dimensions very well at all; enough so that I start to suspect the OS (a few years ago, you could argue Palm just did an end run around this issue by never having different resolutions, though recent PalmOS devices are getting there, I don't know the details of how they handle it.)

          For every basic task, the Palm has a great UI, both for novices and experienced users. And for the non-basic tasks, it holds its own, with a large library of 3rd party software. The approach of scaling up from simplicity has worked a lot better than scaling down from the desktop.
          • Re:PocketPC (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Jenova_Six (166461)
            The UI was just bad. I forget the exact task we were trying to do, but yes, it probably had to do with the registration of a file he had just synched over with his desktop. We attacked from both the open dialog of the app, and from the file explorer, and got nuthin.
            What type of file were you trying to open? What application was it associated with? Sounds non-standard or third party, in which case it certainly is not the fault of the OS.
            The synching was crap. It may have improved, but he had mentioned that it tended to crash very, very badly, and that he had heard tht was a known problem. Also, from a higher level standpoint, I'd debate the wisdom of "you don't have to press a button to synch"...it sounds great from a marketing standpoint, but in practice, I'd rather have control of when data is transferred, not just hope the daemon has woken up and done what it needed to.
            There is an option in Activesync to sync automatically (continuous), sync only on connection (one time), or to sync manually (only when you click the button). You have all the control you could ask for.
            The crappy GPS app seemed to be using basic, lowlevel OS functionality for the dynamic toolbars, they looked more or less like the same thing under IE. I've seen a few apps that didn't handle the screen dimensions very well at all; enough so that I start to suspect the OS
            Even if the GPS app uses OS functions like toolbars, it's still a crappy app. The toolbars, and other UI elements in all of the built in applications look fine and work perfectly. Some people try to run Handheld PC (WinCE 3.0) apps on Pocket PC, which sometime works, but the screens are designed for the half VGA HPC screen.

            I won't argue which is better, Palm or Pocket PC, because I think they're both useful, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. But you're spreading FUD about Pocket PC, as most of your comments just aren't true.

            Jenova_Six

            • I concede several of your points. Also, I may be talking about the PocketPC of a year ago, they may have improved in some ways. (Though it is interesting that the difference between early Palms and late Palms is MUCH less significant than early and late CE)

              I wish I remembered the details of the file issue; it was pretty damning, and it wasn't a particularly weird file format. It may have been trying to view the source of an HTML document, or something along those lines, but it really turned me off the OS, and I was seriously considering getting it, because the hardware was so nice.

              Same with the synch button; are you certain the iPaq had a button on its cradle? I remember looking for reasons to like it, but its owner had little good to say about it, and I thought I would've noticed a synch button, since that's when I formulated my anti-auto-synch attitude.

              The GPS app may indeed have been a port of a CE 3.0 app; kind of funny, because the rest of the app was pretty sick, and only the parts of the app that tied into the UI of the OS sucked.

              Sorry if it was excessively FUD seeming. I still think Palm is such a better bet for Joe User for actual utility...
      • Re:PocketPC (Score:3, Interesting)

        All my friends use Palm (save this one guy). The trouble is they all use old PalmVs and the like, and see no need to upgrade; Palm has hurt itself by making a perfectly adequate product from its first few generations.

        I'll just add something here.

        I spose the depends on how you persive perfectly adequate.
        My Vx is perfectly adequate, compared to the newer Palms or PocketPCs. But if Palm did something usefull like dump the graffiti area, use a higher res screen, made it even thinner than the Vx, bumped up the RAM, and fixed up some annoying thigs in PalmOS, I would no longer see the Vx as adequate. But have they? No. What am I missing today?

        • Poor colour screen.
        • Vibrator option that has poor setting (it's either on or off from what I can tell, I don't need a vibrator when my Palm is sitting on the table doing it wake-up call).
        • No spare stylus.
        • Heavier.
        • LED power button.
        • A new note app.
        • Expantion card, which from what I head has been poorly implemented into the OS.
        • Oh yeah, and a basic thing like a pop-up clock, which I solved with better 3rd party SW anyway (PocketWatch+).
        Not much really. Like you said, alot of people find there current Palm perfectly adequate. But I don't think Palm hurt them selves by making a product that is perfectly adequate. They hurt them selves by not improving there product. If you build it, they will come.
    • Bingo.

      Palm sat back while Pocket PC came in and introduced high(er) res displays, more storage, more generic expandability (through CF), and the ability to do things like play MP3's.

      The average person goes into Compusa looking at these devices, and the Pocket PC machines just stand out better. They've got more memory, are more colorful, and faster processors. Whether or not all this is neccessary is moot, it's a percieved deficit on the palm side.

      I've been shocked that palm hasn't reacted to this. Sony has, and the new Clie machines are very cool, but palm has been stagnating for quite a while.
      • So much of these threads are just plain dumb. You people are just talking about hardware and the OS and nothing about what the device is used for.

        The PalmOS based devices are great PDAs and get you your data faster, easier, and in general, cheaper. Do I care if my PDA has 4,8, or 32 MB of RAM when I can put 10's of thousands of addresses and appointments in 2-4MBs? There are tons of other apps that help me keep my data/life organized too and they are cheap or free.

        There's a place for full featured pocketable PC's but they currently don't do too well at playing music(batt life rots), there's alot of WOW factor with the movie playing and picture viewing but is that what the majority of the market for handheld computers needs? It's getting close to the time that an MP3 player is builtin( w/CF slot ) and soon simple wireless ( ala bluetooth ) but video and wordprocessors? Who would be dumb enough to write THAT much on a handheld? Get the text in there and let the desktop pretty it up.

        This is another classic marketing story that unless Palm and it's partners get off the ass, they're going to get blown away by MS and the public is going to think they need to spend twice as much as they NEED to. Once again Microsoft gets richer at the expense of usability and the public pays for it. They are great at marketing and that means getting people to THINK they need their products.

        I'd love to see someone here talk about what people DO with all these different devices instead of just talking about features.

        LoB
    • Re:PocketPC (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jchristopher (198929)
      The reason Handspring/Palm are having so much trouble is, in fact, the PocketPC.

      Actually, I think it has more to do with the fact that everyone who needed a PDA over the last few years still owns a perfectly functional Palm III.

      • I think there may be something to this.

        Look at the various new Palm compatibles (Palmables?) that are coming out from various companies. They mostly aren't just faster, or even faster and slimmer. Or even with color. They all have gimmicks now. Like the HandEra330, which has a voice recorder and slots for two different kinds of memory expansions, or the Sony CLIEs with the high-res screens and hyped-up IR port which will also serve as universal remote controls.

        The Visor Deluxe that I bought back when it was $250 is still adequate for me--or would be if the screen hadn't developed a slight short in it. There's nothing that I want to do with it that I can't already--except maybe wireless, but that's not yet mature enough to warrant consideration. As it is, now that CLIE is looking mighty good...but after I buy that, I don't think I'll need another PalmOS device for a good long while.
    • Actually, its the other way around. People who truely use their handhelds want the Palm OS. The people who are going to *buy* the handheld wants Palm OS. Thats because, in the long run, people in the know want a reliable, supported, and stupidly easy OS. And most importantly, they want an operating system designed for a handheld.

      A handheld is *NOT* a cute little version of the desktop. Period. You don't use the same applications, and its not designed to use the same applications. And this is why non PocketPC operating systems outpace Microsoft 2 to 1. And by 2005, Microsoft is expected to be 4th in the embedded space behind Palm, Linux and VxWorks.

      On PalmOS, you have to familiarize yourself with the device.

      Wow, and thats all of what, 10 minutes?

      Never underestimate the value of shiny things.

      The value of shiny things depreciates much faster then the value of things that atually work.
    • I haven't actually seen a PocketPC yet, so this is just based on MS's subway ad.

      There was a Palm and a PocketPC, both showing weather reports. The Palm's report fit on the screen, and included the current day. The PocketPC needed a scrollbar (which is always a pain), and seemed to start without the current day on the screen. The weather reports were entirely different. Guess which one I'd trust.

      Evidentally, the PocketPC is a device for people whose requirement in a handheld is a diagonal gradient. I suspect, on the other hand, that most people who actually want to use handhelds for anything already have Palms. The remaining market may only be for people who want a pretty device that doesn't work.
    • Anyone who has spent some time with a Palm V/M50x can tell you this. Those PocetPC things are big bloated irritating lumps in your pocket. Big screens look flashy and are great for showing off a game, or editing a spreadsheet (though when you get to SS editing, it is time to get a laptop), or something, but a PDA spends a lot of its life in a pocket. I had a Cassiopea, and ditched it quite soon after getting it due to horrid size. No PPC is is small enough. The M505 could even use a little shrinking still. PocketPC devices are not addressing shrinking form factor, but rather are adding bloatware bells and whistles. I would not even consider looking at one if I couldn't leave it in my shirt pocket comfortably.
      • The M505 could even use a little shrinking still. PocketPC devices are not addressing shrinking form factor, but rather are adding bloatware bells and whistles. I would not even consider looking at one if I couldn't leave it in my shirt pocket comfortably.

        Wow, full circle - This is why I think that Handspring is smart by betting the farm on the Treo. I'm with you - I want my PDA to be small and extremely portable, just like my mobile phone. From what I've read and seen (and from what Handspring claims) the Treo is the smallest of all the Palm devices so far (smaller than a deck of cards) and it's a phone which means I can kill two birds with one credit card purchase. I think a lot of people will be just like me.

        This is definitely the area where the PocketPC is going to have trouble following the PalmOS - to this small of a form factor and functionality, which I would venture is much more important than Color/Memory/MP3, etc. "Stinger" cuts too much out of the OS to be a PDA on a phone, I think. But that doesn't matter - it's considered a different platform anyways. I can't write a PocketPC/Stinger application that will work effortlessly like I can write a PalmOS app right now that will still work on the Treo.

        The question in my mind is what's going to happen with PalmOS 5.0? Suddenly, the PalmOS is as power hungry as the PocketPC. Will there be a PalmOS 5.0 based Treo? It's a good question. Does this mean that PDAs will all progress to 32 bits, but "Communicators" will be stuck in 16 bit for the time being? Maybe not since there's Nokia, SonyEricsson, Motorola and the rest of the Symbian group to think about. The Symbian OS is 32 bits and runs on their phones. But when will their "Smartphones" move up to be more like PDAs? (Not counting the Nokia 9210 which is more PDA than mobile phone). And when are we going to see the first Linux based PDA/Phone?

        -Russ
  • by trix_e (202696) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:43PM (#2850318)
    Yeah, they'll stop making Visors one day... color me stunned. Sony stopped making 10" B&W TV sets at some point too...

    The Treo is a nifty little device which is an evolution of the Visor. Integrating a phone makes sense, integrating wireless makes sense. If Handspring decides not to make a device that *only* does PDA type functionality, that's probably a good business decision. Sure they're still be a market for a limited device like that, it just won't be Handspring making it. But as the technology changes, and component prices come down, it'll be generally expected that a device have more and more features. Handspring is just acknowledging that fact.
    • You could add phone and wireless capabilities to a Visor through the expansion slot in the back. Also, you have an mp3 player, digital camera, and a whole mess of other stuff. Palm is the one that is just a PDA.
  • by brogdon (65526) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:46PM (#2850340) Homepage
    Donna has referred to organizers as a "dead end" several times before now. I can't blame her, since she's right. With the hardware getting better and better all the time, and Microsoft's PocketPC basically owning the high-end of the market, she can see where the road will lead. When the hardware finally does catch up and the price falls, no one will pay $100 for a Palm when they can get a PocketPC for the same price that runs their cozy Windows OS and does almost as much as their laptop.

    So what does Handspring do? They go sideways. Start merging their devices into cell phones and other WiFi solutions, and hopefully expand the market in a way Microsoft's lumbering embrace-and-extend strategy won't be able to engulf for another year or two, buying them some more time to figure out where to go next.

    In a bizarre way it reminds me of The Nothing relentlessly following Atreyu across the countryside in The Never-Ending Story. :)
    • So what does Handspring do? They go sideways.

      From a product with real usability and an IMAGE of just geek appeal, to a product with poor usability and by definition ONLY geek appeal. I mean they call it a communicator for crying out loud!

      If I wanted my cellphone, pager, and organizer all in one device, I suppose that'd be fine. But tell me: how the hell are you going to discuss your appointment calendar when the screen is pasted to your cheek?

      • If I wanted my cellphone, pager, and organizer all in one device, I suppose that'd be fine. But tell me: how the hell are you going to discuss your appointment calendar when the screen is pasted to your cheek?



        Headset.

    • Or, for anyone who bit a while ago at that Apple handheld-like device [slashdot.org], they could adopt Mac OS X. They already run a modified (stripped) version of it on the registers at brick & mortar Apple stores, and if Handspring/Palm were to combine what they have with some of the Newton technologies... I'm sure you'd have some very happy geeks. (Especially since the iPod already has a 5 Gig hard drive, the right form factor, and Firewire - that'd be what, the iSpring?)
  • by OS24Ever (245667) <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:49PM (#2850360) Homepage Journal
    Until PDAs really get more main stream in large corporate world accounts they won't be successful. I call on fortune 500 companys and state government accounts. The only people that have Palm or WinCE devices are other Techs that are 'evaluating' one, or other sales types that sell them. Other than that, I never have anyone I can beam my business card too and I continue to have to use paper ones.

    They need to get a product on there that is invaluable, or can help replace the much more expensive laptop. Until then, they're going to be an expensive calandar whos nearest competitor is the Franklin Planner, or the DayTimer.
    • IT dept. "recommending" PDAs is a double edged sword. Of course it's nice to have one bought for you .. BUT: if the IT dept. buys it, they own your data! Get laid off, sorry, your whole life for the last three years is shot unless you backed up recently. Plus they are likely to demand features you DON'T need (remote management, for example) at the expense of features you DO (MP3).

      PDAs are way cheap now. People should, and do, buy their own.

    • Bullshit. I work for a large Bank. Anyone with an administrative assistant assigned to them has a PDA that the administrative assistant is supposed to keep synced for them. This is NOT in a tech department. Out of the other workers, I'd say about 10-25% have them.

      I have one that I bought many years ago, but never use.
      • A large bank. I was talking about large airplane manufacturing companies, large investment companies, state agencies, web server farm companies, Small and Medium Businesses, etc. So a lot of people with admins have a PDA the admin is responsible for....Do they use them? Do the Admin's keep em synched? Or is it desk art?

        Just like computers were before the advent of Windows 3.x. I'm talking large scale acceptance too, like 70% to 80% of the population of a given country (business wise, not consumer wise) Consumer market really didn't take off until the advent of even Windows 95.

        Don't get me wrong, I've so far purchased 5 PDAs since they came out and I can't live without mine. Then again, I'm a geek and I work in the tech industry.

        Realisticly, until they get some main stream applications on either platform, Palm or PocketPC they are going to be a geek type toy more than a real world app. Pocket Word and Pocket Excel aren't exactly the best tools on the iPaq with a stylus and no real keyboard....

        There is a bit of bias on my part for Pocket PC so take the last statement with a grain of salt please. I happen to like the Palm OS and Graffiti. I'm really looking forward to the Treo to combine my Sprint PCS phone and the IBM Workpad c505 (Aka Palm c505) into one piece.
    • Perhaps not *every*, but most, and I'm in a dull boring telecomm company. You can get a low-end model for $100; you can spend that much on a high-end DayTimer. Some of the geekier types have the higher-end fancier organizers, with cameras or music players or whatever, but everybody's got one.

      One reason is because the Palm software does an excellent job of syncing with the MSOutlook Calendar, and if you or your organization uses Outlook as your calendar tool, you get the convenience of a pocketsized calendar while still syncing up with the scheduling requests you get by email. Without good sync software, it would probably not have caught on as fast.

      And the software on PalmOS, while limited in functionality, programmer-hostile, and oriented towards a small lamer screen (unlike the Psion I used before my Palm), is designed to be extremely friendly for many common tasks. The most annoying limit is document size - early limited-memory hardware meant they designed lots of applications to limit themselves to 4KB notes, which is even more annoying than the 32KB-64KB that most small-model Intel programs used to have.

      My wife uses a small palmtop made of dead trees, which has a palm-style cover and pen-holder....

    • I'd have to disagree with this one.

      I'm a high school student now in my second year, and got a Palm at the beginning of my freshman year. Originally, I had a m100, now I've got a m105. Many of my friend's parents (mostly lawers, and a few businessmen) all have Palms. I personally use mine with the Palm Keyboard to take notes, etc. in school. To date, I've never gotten more than a light-hearted "geek" comment from anyone (and when I do, it's usually friends bugging me). The important part of functionality isn't what you can use, it's what you do use. In this respect, a Palm is as useful as a iPaq or other WinCE machine for most users. I take typed notes,I have a spell check and email program, and I have loaded games, like the complete original Sim City. If the iPaq were the same price, as my m105, would I have bought an iPaq? In all honesty, probably. The color screen, ability to play MP3's and connect to broadband (with an adapter), as well as more expandability than my older m105 are all attractive features, in my mind, set off only by the minor annoyances of a Microsoft logo here and there (in all honesty, having used a Windows CE 1.0 machine for 3 years, WinCE's as stable as Palm), as well as lower (but still long enough for a day's use) battery life, are just too attractive to pass up. But would I use the extra features? Not often. My computing experience, in terms of the output that I sync to print out, and in terms of the things I can do in on my device, would be almost exactly the same. The prices aren't the same, and as long as people think of a PDA as an accessory and not a full PC, price will remain a (if not the) key selling point to the masses. Tim
  • by pgrote (68235) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:51PM (#2850376) Homepage
    I was at Comdex this year where the Treo was unveiled. It is boxy and not very comfortable to use. The idea is a good one, but it looked like an American car from the 70s next to a sleek Toyota of today.

    Europe is a great market to move this to as folks appreciate the gadgets more than Americans do. Then again, maybe they like the design. ;-)
  • I have no idea... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@ ... o.ca minus punct> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:51PM (#2850377)
    I looked at the Treo device and thought really cool.

    But some poster mentioned that the PDA market is collapsing, or the PocketPC is eating everyone's lunch.

    Well I do not know. Here is what I do know. Companies are not allowing things like Blackberries anymore (PDA inclusive). I have owned about 5 PDA's in different form factors and the result is that I use none of them.

    So I kept thinking why this is the case? The answer is that I have several notebooks and I find the problem with PDA's is that there is simply not enough space. I get quite a bit of email and documents. A PDA just sucks. However, notebooks have become small, work everywhere, etc, etc.

    So I think the black knight is the notebook market.
  • by jvmatthe (116058) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:51PM (#2850380) Homepage
    Dubinsky said:
    We are a company that is transitioning out of the organizer business and into the communicator business.[emphasis added]

    Now if they'd just work on getting the transporter functional, phaser operational, and making one-piece miniskirt outfits come back in style, I can start living the life of Kirk. ;^)
    • You realize you're just jumping excitedly into the stereotypical Slashdot user mold, right?

      "Well, gee, there must be some reason I'm not scoring with all the chicks the way the heroes of my favorite science fiction TV shows do. I know, I just need more technological gadgets!"
  • by Angerson (121904) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:52PM (#2850389) Homepage
    Sure, it's a gamble for Handspring, but it might just pay off. I've used both PocketPC and Palm OS devices extensively and found that if you want a lightweight, mini-pc, the PocketPC is far better suited to this. However, if you want something really lightweight (as in both form and function), the Palm OS is a nice addition to any phone.

    In fact, I've got a Samsung Palm OS phone right now and it's a truly wonderful hybrid device - perfect for my needs. I can't wait to see what these new Treo phones bring to the table, especially the color model (should Handspring hang around long enough to deliver it).
  • by Jonathunder (105885) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:52PM (#2850394) Homepage
    Handspring CEO Donna Dubinsky said "We are a company that is transitioning out of the organizer business and into the communicator business. At some point we will have transitioned out of the organizer business."

    Please don't do that to the English language, Ms. Dubinsky. It has suffered enough.
    • Um, no.

      intr.v. transitioned, transitioning, transitions

      1.To make a transition.

      American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, 2000

      English/American English is not like French. Even if this was a new word we do not need the permission of some ridiculous "academy" (which everyone ignores anyway) to create new words. The meaning of "transitioning" is unambiguous and most importantly: It gets Ms. Dubinsky's point across just fine.

      SirWired
  • You can listen to their conferance call with investors here:

    http://biz.yahoo.com/cc/5/12625.html [yahoo.com]

    Alot of this is spin, but investors can be a nasty crowd.

  • by Adrian Voinea (216087) <adrianNO@SPAMgds.ro> on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:58PM (#2850431) Homepage Journal
    In order to create a successful wireless platform you're going to need good hardware.
    Handspring doesn't have it. They've got a 33Mhz 16-bit Motorola Dragonball processor. It can (slowly) serve the most basic mobile data needs (email, instant messaging), play a couple of neat little games, and be a pretty effective organizer, but that's about it.
    Palm OS devices are stuck at 8 or 16MB's of total capacity, which sure as hell means you won't be storing any large files (movies, MP3s, etc) on it.
    They need modern hardware, like an ARM-derived platform, to overcome these inherent limitations. (I know, Palm says it's working on it, but that was supposed to materialize how long ago now??)
    Also, another hardware problem is the resolution... the Prism looks awesome in the photos, but remember that the resolution is ONLY 160x160 -- the same as the Palm IIIc. For those that have seen the IIIc, you will remember that it has a very grainy resolution.
    Although the Prism does have a higher color depth, and uses TFT color, unless the screen has a tighter dpi, you will probably find that it is only marginally better than the IIIc. Also, remember that it is thicker and heavier than a regular Visor.
    I'm very interested in seeing a real one up close, in both indoor light AND outdoor light. As far as color goes outside, I have only seen 2 color LCDs that really work well outside -- the Sony hybrid LCD on their digital camera, and the Compaq IPAQ. The rest wash out completely.
    • They've got a 33Mhz 16-bit Motorola Dragonball processor. It can (slowly) serve the most basic mobile data needs (email, instant messaging), play a couple of neat little games, and be a pretty effective organizer, but that's about it.

      Professionals don't spent their day doing instant messaging, sending e-mails from their organizers, and playing games. They need devices that can serve as calculators, automate their schedules, store phone numbers, and provide a convenient way to store written information. They don't want to change batteries every two days or be tied to a charger so that they can have an x-hundred-megahertz CPU in a handheld. They need to have the company phone directory in their handheld -- not MP3s from Rancid, the Backstreet Boys, or Everclear.

      That's why the Palm continues to have a strong following.
      • Ever heard of Blackberries? Of course professionals need to have instant messaging on their PDAs.
        • Ever heard of Blackberries? Of course professionals need to have instant messaging on their PDAs.

          Blackberries are, for the vast majority of users, a time-wasting status symbol rather than a valuable tool. I'm a professional. I don't need a Blackberry. The people I work with are all professionals and I've only seen one of them with a Blackberry -- and he got it because it's a cool toy, not because he needed it to be productive in his job. In fact, if you want to see the least productive use of time in the world, watch some poor schmuck try to compose a message on that Blackberry micro-keyboard that makes most calculator keyboards look expansive.
          • I'd never get an e-mail response from my boss if he didn't have a Blackberry.

            In the large Bank that I work for, Blackberries are very common in the investments side of the Banc.
          • That's a negative. It may differ by industries, but in banking, wireless messaging is quite popular. Us techie types get 2-way RIM pagers (same hardware as Blackberries, differnt OS/functionality), and banking types get BBs.
            QUITE useful in many situations.
            [ including being able to let my family know i'm alive via e-mail at 9:15am on 9/11, when all cell phones in Downtown manhattan were dead. I was in 1WTC on the 2-d floor when #1 hit, and straight under impact point of 2WTC at the moment of #2. ]
            More to the point, being able to communicate from arbitrary location is a great time saver => dramatically increased productivity.
            And the keyboard is not all that hard to use once you get a hang of it.

            -DVK
    • You are incorrect on most of these points:

      * Processor: Good point, but ARMs are coming.
      * Memory: Not if you get a GOOD PalmOS handheld.
      Take a look at HandEra sometime.
      It has SD and CF slots. Which means up to
      256M+512M=768M max storage capacity
      (current capacities of largest SD and CF cards).
      * Resolution: HandEra has 320x240 QVGA screen.
      Incredible thing (Yes, I own a HandEra).
      Sony Clie has 320x320, which is bigger and more
      backwards compatible with old 160x160, yet
      not as easy to extend into true VGA later on as
      QVGA.
      A dedicated media chip ought to enable MP3
      playback better than anything else, even a
      faster processor. I'd kill to have that added
      to HandEra.

      -Daniel
  • by Agent Green (231202) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:59PM (#2850446)
    ...is the only reason I'm a Handspring user. The backup module kicks ass, and with my extra on-call pay this week, I'm seriously considering the OmniRemote module. The VisorPhone looks cool too, but GSM capabilities in the U.S. are virtually non-existant and I'm not impressed by VoiceStream. That slot is what sold me over. I'd have a Palm V otherwise.

    Last I knew, WinCE devices don't have that kind of expandability...unless someone is planning to make PCMCIA versions of all those cool devices. :) Granted, they look pretty...but under a very heavy use load, I get a couple weeks out of my Visor Neo's batteries.

    There's something about it being "non-Microsoft" that I enjoy...something that I don't feel particularly tied to...free.
    • I signed up as a GSM phone customer with Omnipoint three years ago this week. They were since acquired by Voicestream.

      Other than some minor problems with customer service, which were no worse or better than the problems my friends have had with Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, (and were much less severe than my friends have had with Cingular), I've been extremely happy. In three years I have never had a problem getting a circuit, and having tried phones from all the competing carriers I believe that GSM offers generally superior voice quality. (In theory, Sprint's system can offer superior voice quality, but in practice I don't feel it does.)

      Sprint has had some really cool phones over the last few years, and since I like to replace my phone with a hot new model phone regularly (hey, some people have vanity laptops, I have vanity phones) they've had the opportunity to lure me away at any time... but I have yet to see a phone good enough to lure me away from the GSM system.

      Oh, and I guess I don't travel much into very rural areas any more, but I hardly ever fail to get GSM service anywhere I go any more, including my father's house in rural Georgia or my middle-of-nowhere hometown in northern New Jersey. GSM penetration has gotten pretty good and it's quite possible it may be just great for your needs.

      I'm very interested in the new Handspring phones and will take a close look at them when they get to the US market.
  • 'tis a shame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bpowell423 (208542) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @04:06PM (#2850506)
    The springboard was a marvelous idea. The biggest selling point in my book being plug-and-play that actually worked. All software is on the card, and the Visor recognizes it instantly. Witness the Sony Clie's memory-stick camera. Note on their web site says that it only works after loading the software on seperately. That's a shame, because with the Springboard, it's 100% automatic. In the end, I think most people were like me and thought they were cool but couldn't fork over the money.
    • I love the expandibility of a visor, but when I was looking a while ago to get a newer Palm I decided on a Palm V over a Visor - I knew from previous experience that I wouldn't actually use anything I couldn't keep in the pocket of a pair of jeans.

      A Palm V with hard case is about the same size as a Visor or Palm III, and fits in the same pocket as a set of keys. I'm waiting for a PDA with the same size and battery life, that I can get a hard case for.

      .
  • by libertynews (304820) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @04:07PM (#2850507) Homepage
    Handspring has just destroyed the Springboard and Visor markets with these statements. I am lead programmer for Shine Micro Shine Micro [shinemicro.com], maker of the SM2496 DSP module for the Visor, and we have been working hard to bring our product to market. Currently it is in Beta testing, but it now appears that we are going to have to redesign for a different platform, or dump the project entierly.

    The quote was that the will be exiting the PDA market "but not today". That doesn't provide any kind of reassurance to any of the Springboard deleopers who have invested a great amount of time and effort into what is now a dead product line.
    Yes, all product lines are finite. But you usually don't have the manufacturer announcing this fact prematurely. I don't see any reason for someone to buy a Visor or a Springboard module now that they know that the support will not be there sometime in the near future.

    It sounds like Handspring is turning into a fancy cellphone company. I don't think that they will survive this move. The Visor and Springboard are a good product and would have carried them far into the future (just look at Palm).

    Brian Lane
    Lead Programmer
    Shine Micro [shinemicro.com]
    Maker of the SM2496 DSP module
    • The Visor and Springboard are a good product and would have carried them far into the future (just look at Palm).

      Uhhh, I think that's kind of the point. Have you looked at Palm stock prices lately? They're around $4, down from a 52-week high of $29. Palm didn't make it that far into the future just riding on their hardware, and it's not looking good for them either. At least Handspring has an exit plan.
    • Hmm. So the first moment a manufacturer says they will one day drop an old product in favour of a new one, you stop all development?

      It's not like I'm seeing any users suddenly burning all their PDAs just be cause a new product is coming out.
      • You have to. When the manufacturer drops their product line people stop buying it, that means they won't be buying Springboard modules either. You can't afford to develop a new product if there isn't a market for it.

        Yes, there are alot of Visors out there, but how comfortable are you going to feel spending more money on your now obsolete device? The Springboard market hasn't been doing as well as expected as it is, but now we will never know if it would have reached a critical mass, will we?

        Brian Lane
        Lead Programmer
        Shine Micro [shinemicro.com]
        Maker of the SM2496 DSP module
  • Maybe because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sulli (195030) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @04:11PM (#2850539) Journal
    nobody's upgrading? My old Palm still works fine.
  • by neurojab (15737) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @04:28PM (#2850649)
    I can't figure out why handspring would announce this. They have, in the eyes of consumers, obsoleted their entire inventory. What are they going to do with their warehouses full of neos, prisms, and pros? I go to fry's and there are still deluxes piled up everywhere. They're not going anywhere after this. Why not announce a price cut, clear the inventory and THEN announce a product's obsolence. This current strategy places them atop piles of unsellable inventory... not to mention the fact that it kills their revenue stream for the immediate future.
  • My favorite part of this is that Handspring is announcing that it will kill the Visor is favor of a product that it can't keep up the supply on. Reminds me of the early days of Handspring where they had problems meeting demand on the orginal Visors.
  • by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @05:12PM (#2850991) Journal
    I liked the idea of the handspring modules...But they have never really taken off, and are hard to find in the stores. (and really expensive) -- I long for the day I could just simply take the PCMCIA modem or NIC card out of my laptop and use it with my "state of the art circa 1996" HP 200LX .. And in 2002 I am spending $100+ for a 33.6K springboard modem for my Handspring (granted you can find them in the stores -- hint, you may have some luck on the closeout table right next to the returned items that have been marked down .5%)
    The palms are even worse -- I dont think the external devices have been compatible with the next gen models since day 1. (I.E. my palm V modem will not work with my palm m505 -- etc.)

    If ever I have seen a market that was begging for a little standardization -- the PDA market is it.
  • MODEL T.

    PDA's are fantastically useful to me. I don't know how I would get to anything on time without the cling-ting-ting of my Visor Deluxe. However I think chasing the high end (Platinum)is a bad move as well as moving laterally (Treo) if the consumer gets another 500.00 gadget. Ford made millions not by making the coolest car, but by making millions of a good-enough car everyone could afford. People in electronics land forget sometimes the Walmart/Target population. Instead of building a few nifty high margin palm compatible gadgets I think Handspring has the opportunity to redesign for efficiency and then mass produce affordable, practical handhelds in huge numbers. Steve Jobs is addicted to high margins: look at the market penetration of Apple.
    Current prices for a Visor Deluxe on ebay are around 70.00. I think 49.99 would just about do it for a target price. This would allow the penetration that would truly launch Springboard as development platform. High margins can be made on nifty modules (GPS, phone, graphing calc. etc) later, after every kid, father and mother has one.

    My .02

    -ghostis
  • I think the reason why you may never see the Treo in the US market in its current form is the fact that the most common digital cellphone systems here in the USA do NOT use the GSM system (which the Treo requires)--they're mostly using the Qualcomm CDMA standard. Since Europe and Japan uses GSM, that's where most of the market for the Treo cellphone will be, alas.

    I expect Handspring instead to develop something akin to the Treo but it will support the CDMA and the upcoming CDMA2000 standard that American cellullar providers use--we may not see it until the fall of 2002. My guess is that Handspring may co-market the device in conjunction with Sprint PCS, Verizon and Cingular Wireless, the largest cellular providers in the USA.
  • They have killed off the only real market they had and due to lack of parts they won't be able to penetrate the market they want. Retail channels will no longer order Visors and cannot order Treos. Customers who bought Visors (like me) will remember this when they finally knock on our doors to sell Treos.

    Anyone who buys a Visor now is crazy if he/she thinks that Handspring will still be around for support.

    There must be great rejoicing in Redmond today.

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