This February marks the first anniversary of my Visor and I thought I
would take a moment to look back on the past 12 months and see what has made the
Handspring Visor such a huge success.
Three years ago when I
gave up my Newton 2100, I didn't see any reason why I wanted to purchase another
handheld when the current state of Palm technology was drastically far behind
what the 120 MHz, 640 x 480 Newton (with PC card support) could do. So I waited.
And I waited. And I waited. Finally a company came along that really seemed to
see the future. They understood what both Palm supporters and Newton supporters
were looking for in a PDA. Palm users are people who love simplicity in
function, and size is an issue for them. Newton lovers want power, speed, and
expansion. The Handspring Visor was that promise fulfilled for both camps.
I quickly learned what
Palm OS lovers always knew. The beauty of the platform is in its simplicity, but
as a Newton user, would this new device hold up to my expandability standards? A
few weeks later I received my modem and keyboard and that question was quickly
answered as a resounding "Yes!" I was able to check my e-mail within
10 minutes out of the box.
So what is the secret of
the Visor's success? Let's take a look at 10 driving factors.
1. Price. All the
functionality of a comparable Palm device without the hefty price tag. Low
introduction costs led the Visor to be accessible to those where price is a
contributing factor. For me it was an issue since I could buy a comparable
Palm-like device that gave me all the functionality of the Palm OS with the
promise of expansion in the future, for half the price.
2. Expandable. I
can see what drove the founders of Handspring to leave 3Com and start a new
platform. The Palm had become a slave to its own success. Palm made the mistake
many large technology manufacturers make, they feared introducing something new
would ostracize the current user base. Palm continued to focus on making the
Palm slimmer and slimmer, when they should have been building card support
(something the Newton had years ago and Windows CE devices currently had). They
took the view of expansion via adding the Palm to a device, versus adding a
device to the Palm. My Visor is a year old and I am just beginning to tap its
abilities, where comparable new Palm Pilots are already obsolete. There are
hints of a new Palm with an expansion slot, but Handspring may have built enough
momentum to beat Palm at their own game.
Handspring was smart by licensing the Palm OS. It allowed them to gain newbies
who were concerned with buying a "Palm-like" device, and current Palm
users had the ability to switch over with zero pain. You are one Hot-Sync away
from transferring your Palm data to your Visor. In my opinion, if Palm were
smart they would begin to evolve into an OS company and forego manufacturing
hardware altogether. This strategy seems to have worked well for that company in
Redmond with that other Handheld OS.
4. Retail. I
purchased my Visor directly from Handspring, but Handspring's decision to sell
the Visor in retail stores was the #1 reason they have become the fastest
selling handheld on the market. Being able to compare the Visor side-by-side
with the Palm, to see that the layout of the OS and the basic functionality is
the same, is crucial. Also there is the ability to view the ease of adding a
Springboard module firsthand. As someone who has worked as a tech evangelist, I
know it is the "live experience" that allows the Visor to sell itself.
5. USB. USB was one
of the deciding factors for me, as I wanted to invest in a device that would not
leave me behind within a year. Also, since I own both Macs and PCs, it was the
only cross compatible solution with zero hassle. Many people out there are
actually upset that the Visor cradle shipped with USB and not serial support.
These are the same people who complain when there is any major advance in
technology that forces them to keep up. Serial is dead, R.I.P. It is
slow, it is old and it is almost extinct. USB is a bold step forward and I
applaud them for it!
The remaining factors >>