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Interview With Handspring

Fri Apr 20, 2001 - 1:06 PM EDT - By Alan Graham

After the release of the Visor Edge and the announcement of a new Sony Clie, iPaq and Palm 50x series of handhelds, I thought it was a good time to find out what was going on over at Handspring. You know they say "ask and ye shall receive," and Brian Jaquet, Public Relations Manager for Handspring was kind enough to set up a discussion with Mark Dadgar, Product Marketing Manager for Handspring. I went into the VisorCentral discussion boards and pulled out a few topics that people wanted to know more about.

VC: Now that Palm has announced the m500 series and Sony has also shown a new Clie model, Handspring will no longer be the only handheld that can differentiate themselves with an expansion slot. How will Handspring set themselves apart from the competition?

MD/HS: I think we already have. The Springboard slot is everything the other expansion technologies out there are and then some. We've been seeing for a long time now that Springboard is really a superset of other technologies. We're starting to see modules come out now that validate that story. We're starting to see modules come out that are memory stick adaptors, MMC adaptors showing that you can encapsulate all those technologies in Springboard and still have the flexibility to build other devices. You know we have yet to see any validation stories of the other expansion slot technologies that can do anything other than content. We know they are great at storing music, we know they are great at storing images, and documents, but we have yet to see any kind of proof whatsoever that they can do things like I/O, wireless Internet access for example.

VC: Well one of the issues people are talking about in regards to the m50x is that with the SD slot the form factor is smaller than Sprinboard. What do you think about that?

MD/HS: Well my personal feel on this is as they try to build some of these modules, they're going to actually have some physical form factor problems. You look at something like memory stick or Flash SD, and though the module itself is very small, when you hang a larger module off the top you start to submit the "tongue depressor" part of it, that fits into the handheld, to some pretty severe torsional forces, and I can see one of those breaking off.

VC: One thing that I found interesting about the m50x was Palm touting the use of the Universal Connector [the bottom connector] of the device. If you look at the Kodak digital camera for the m50x, for example, it connects to the bottom of the Palm. It drastically changes the form factor of the device, almost doubling the size of the m50x. It seems a little backwards to be attaching to the bottom versus the top. What are your thoughts?

MD/HS: You know it is kind of interesting too, that when we first shipped the Visor and some of the modules, one of the things people really liked about it was that you could use the modem, for example, and the keyboard at the same time. That is not going to be possible with the universal connector.

Another interesting thing, I am sure you saw the pictures on the web of the new Sony Clie? They made a big deal about the fact that there is a BlueTooth module for it. Did you see where the BlueTooth module connects to the handheld? I'll give you a hint, it's not the memory stick slot.

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