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  1.    #1  
    A tale of two platforms
    More ramblings by Foo Fighter

    It was the best of handhelds, was the worst of handhelds. It was a time of "Less is more", was a time of "More is more". Thus begins this tragic tale.

    Current Situation

    The past few weeks have been rather interesting in the handheld market, if not confusing. There have been some new revelations concerning market share. Handspring's products have been a runaway hit at the box office, While Microsoft's much hyped marketing campaign , targeting Palm, came in like a lion and went out like a mouse. Hubris...that's their problem. Meanwhile, Palm executives have been running like a bunch of headless chickens to every tech journalist with a microphone to tell their tales of things to come in their products, eventually. Yes, and some day I hope to be a multimillionaire, but we don't always see these things materialize. They promise much but deliver little. Pretty sad.

    Misguided souls

    Microsoft, for its part, has delivered an OS that is drastically improved over the previous iteration, but still seems like a half finished idea designed by committee. It lacks the simplicity or elegance of the Palm OS. The more I play with the interface, the more it seems that MS engineers started with an idea of a browser GUI that was subsequently left unfinished. It suffers from poor execution.

    Palm, on the other hand, has the opposite flaw. A simple yet brilliantly executed OS that's lacking in depth or utility. In short, it suffers from the same problem as Microsoft's desktop OS...lack of innovations. Both operating systems have remained largely unchanged since 95, and they are both getting long in the tooth.

    Ultimately, I believe Microsoft's platform strategy, or lack thereof, will be the downfall of their product. After just two and a half weeks, I'm already seeing unfulfilled promises. Pity too, since they did a good job, overall. Each Pocket PC OEM has it's own product idea that is independent of the others, often running completely different hardware. The result; fragmented agendas (and products) that often end with confused consumers scratching their heads asking "which one do I choose?". Essentially, no one really knows who's running this show. Microsoft is trying to utilize the same licensing strategy that it uses for its PC OS, which is to simply license the OS to an OEM who then pre-installs it on their systems, then manufactures and markets their own products. But there are no DELLs in the mobile computing space, the mentality of simply "dropping boxes from a vendor and then walking away" will not translate well in this arena. This market is made up of handheld vendors who produce the whole "widget". Mobile users want solutions, not systems. A good example of an excellent handheld solution is the RIM Blackberry pager, it offers instant wireless email access.


    The only saving grace to this madness, in the end, will be convergence. The idea of different features and ideas (such as streaming audio, wireless access, color displays, as well as expansion) trickling their way into handhelds. Microsoft, so far, has the most well rounded product but it's fate lies in the hands of a company with out any real sense of direction or innovative ideas. If they had bought out Palm when they had a chance this may have been a different situation. As it is now, both company and product are locked in a fight for survival. But I'm beginning to see a large cube shaped object over the horizon with the words DOJ written all over..."Resistence is futile". Where do you want to go today?....where ever the DOJ will allow Microsoft to take us.


    [This message has been edited by foo fighter (edited 05-03-2000).]
  2. #2  
    Well said.

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