VC: The most popular question and concern on the VC discussion boards
that I hear again and again is, will there be a color Edge?
MD/HS: You know that is a question that has been kind of funny
internally for us, because it doesn't matter what you announce, people
want the next thing. There is a technical compromise with doing thin
color screens. And until we feel we can do that where it meets the
expectations of our customers, a screen that meets the color quality
issues and battery lifetime issues, we're not going to announce one.
VC: Well that brings me to a comment I saw in one of our discussion
boards. Apple and Handspring seem similar in that they don't pre-release
any information about a product until it's ready to ship. However Palm, for
example, recently announced a new model months in advance before it is
shipping or even has reached the warehouse. This seems to be a
difference in philosophy. What is your take on this?
MD/HS: You know on one hand it's not teasing our customer base. On the
other hand there are some good business reasons for not doing that. You
know from a PR perspective you get a lot more impact when you surprise
the world than when you trickle stuff out over time. We don't think
there is any value in talking about stuff that is just going to keep our
customers frustrated because they can't buy it.
VC: Especially if you build it up and it doesn't turn out as good as
MD/HS: You know what people really want is a Visor Prism screen in a
Visor Edge form factor, and the technology is not there yet. When it is,
we'll do it.
VC: Handspring has done a phenomenal job of gaining a large share of the
handheld market in a short period of time. Microsoft is very
hungry for this marketplace and recently the iPaq has begun
to make a little headway and grab some converts. It seems the alpha adopters
are going out and spending $600 on these devices. Why do you think this is happening?
What is MS and the iPaq doing right and how will Handspring stay
competitive with PocketPC and the iPaq?
MD/HS: You know it is funny, I was talking to a friend the other day
about a different but related topic. We were talking about watching DVDs
on your computers and we were talking about how Apple was getting a bad
rap because OS X won't allow you to use DVD playback yet. And this
person made the comment to me that I have been thinking all along which
is I don't want to watch DVDs on my computer, I want to watch them on my
TV. I think that applies somewhat to this iPaq issue. I think what is
pushing iPaq sales, honestly, is two things. One is the screen, the
screen is beautiful in almost every light. The price you pay for that is
a little bit of size and a lot of power. The battery doesn't last very
long. I think the other thing that is a lesser driver, but it's also
there, is that nobody in corporate America gets fired for buying a
Windows product and this is a Windows device.
But I think the reality is that Microsoft is trying to compete on
features instead of solving problems. The Palm OS has always been very
focused on solving peoples' problems. How do I carry around my address
book, how do I carry around my schedule, how do I take notes easily?
You're never going to write a novel on a Palm OS device, but it's great
for jotting down notes in meetings and such.
I think what Microsoft has done is they've taken their desktop-centric
view of the world, which is "let's cram as many features into it as
possible" and then shoved it into a device that somewhat fits in your
hand. You know I recently installed Microsoft Office 2000 on my Mac and
it was 285MB. That is a lot of features I am never going to use. And
when you try to fit that into a handheld you end up with things that are
bigger, and the battery life doesn't last as long, and you need a lot
more screen resolution to display the same amount of data.
So I think what happens is that people buy iPaqs for a number of
Editor: There was a part two of this interview, but the Total Recall that was used lost the data.