6. Maturity. The
Visor gained a lot of grief in the beginning for the lack of Springboard
modules. I myself had to wait several weeks to get my modem. However in the past
year (not a long time when it comes to the design and manufacturing of hardware)
there are over 40 modules available for purchase and countless others have been
announced as in development. There are also tons of accessories to choose from.
When was the last time you saw this type of execution on any computing platform?
7. Industry Support.
Here we have an unproved company, with talented people, who convinced an entire
industry to develop for a product not even a year on retail shelves. Omnisky,
Xircom, Audible, Rio, Novatel, Texas Instruments and many others have committed
to developing modules or support for a product that was not yet mature enough to
justify development by normal industry standards.
8. IPO. By going
public Handspring was able to raise enough capital to invest back into their own
technology and infrastructure. Both Palm and Handspring went public this past
year, but Palm's stock has taken quite a beating from it's IPO price, where
Handspring seems to have stabilized. Knowing that Handspring will be around for
awhile is comforting to those who see their Visor purchase as an investment.
9. Computer sales
slumped. Everyone has probably purchased a new computer in the past 3 years.
In my opinion, with the exception of hard-core Megahertz users, there hasn't
been a large enough improvement in PC development to drive sales forward yet.
However, not everyone has a handheld and with their pricing being 1/3 to 1/2 of
the price of a new computer, handhelds are an easier pill to swallow. According
to a study by market research firm, NPD Intelect, handheld sales doubled this
year. Palm still controls 72% of the handheld market, but in less than one
year Handspring has captured 14% of that market. That may not sound like
that much, but to go from 0-14% in 12 months, while Casio's share dropped from
11% to 6%, HP dropped to 2.3% from 2.9% and Compaq has gone from virtually no
showing to only 2% in 12 months, makes Handspring's growth astounding.
Instead of Handspring trying to be the be-all/end-all of the Handheld market or
limiting development to firms with exclusivity deals, Handspring has allowed
developers to compete for our business simply through the quality, innovation
and pricing of their products. As I write this there are three GPS units
announced and two of them are shipping. There are at least seven different types
of modems. There are two digital recorders and several different MP3 devices. As
a consumer I have a large selection of devices I can choose from and make my
decision based on price, quality and specifications.
This past year has been an
incredible year for my Visor and Handspring. As someone who has been involved in
this industry for 10 years, not since the iMac in 1998 (and nothing before that)
have I ever seen a computing device so readily accepted by both consumers and
manufacturers. Cheers to you Handspring! Keep up the good work. And to my Visor,
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you...