Why APPLE should get into the PDA business

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by D*I*S_Frontman, Apr 24, 2003.

  1. D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    Lombard, IL
    #1
    Yes, I am well aware that Jobs is on the record as to Apple's PDA aspirations. But I think the time has come to enter that market and completely obliterate the competition.

    1. VALUE/PRICE FOR PDAs SUCKS RIGHT NOW. When I go to CompUSA and look at the PDA offerings, I am UNDERWHELMED by what you are getting for the price. $500-600 to get a glitsy color screen, a frogs-hair more memory, and almost ZERO additional functionality compared to a bargain-bin entry-level Palm. These are the Timex Sinclairs of our generation, IMHO. Apple's design boys could CRUSH what's out there now...

    2. THE ENGINE OF INNOVATION--ENTERPRISE. PDAs are business tools. What makes for more productive business and greater volumes of commerce? I'll give you a hint--it has nothing whatsoever to do with having your freakin' schedule and phone numbers on a pocket calculator. A small paper-based day planner can do that for 1/10th the price (and no batteries). Nor does it have anything to do with listening to mp3s, playing solitaire, or viewing grainy pixeled pictures of your kids while supposedly "at work."

    The real prize here can be summed up in one word: REALTIME. If you are meeting a client in a corporate setting and he/she wants to place an order, you should be able to flip open your PDA, have a secure connection to your company's inventory system, allocate the order and confirm that all items are in stock, assign a PO#, and have the client sign the purchase order on the spot. Boom. Done. Transaction complete. No follow-up calls and faxes, amended orders, bad back-order status news. No reporting back to the home office on your completed and pending orders for the day--they have them realtime. On to the next client. Oh, and your contact management system, with every detail of your company's 100,000 clients and all their past orders? That is online as well (not stuck in your PDA as a ridiculously huge file in constant need of updating).

    Bottom line: you could have a low-res B&W screen, a 12mhz processor and a whopping 8MB of RAM and still have a ridiculously powerful system in your hands if it were dynamically connected to your company's home server. Behold the PDA megahertz/color screen/RAM "myth." Sure, those things make them technically "better," but better at WHAT? Dazzling people in the store? Eliciting the "coolness" vibe when whipped out in front of clients? SHOW ME THE MONEY, BABY!

    3. THE ANSWER--PDA/CELL COMBO DONE RIGHT. I owned one of those Sprint-branded Kyocera Smartphones, which was a mediocre phone and a less-than-mediocre PDA--but even I could see it's potential as a sales/ordering/CRM powerhouse if the right OS and applications were running the thing.

    4. THE MARKET IS READY. Everyone has commented that Palm, Sony, Visor, et al have clogged the market. True. They have clogged it with misdirected products. And their hold is VERY tenuous, considering that companies tend to refresh their PDA systems EVERY 24 MONTHS and are always searching for maximum functionality for the buck.

    5. WHAT WE DON'T NEED IN A PDA. iTunes. Movie playing. Lame jerky video conferencing. Any other stupid add-on gadget or processor-hogging feature that does not make the user immediately more productive. Save the consumer-targeted funky add-on cutesy gismos for the iPod.

    The Apple branded PDA/phone combo, coupled with well-developed CRM/Ordering/Inventory software, a better OS, Inkwell, fantastic range and acceptable wireless data IO speeds would be a productivity tool the business world would JUMP on.

    SOMEONE is going to get fantastically rich making this kind of product. I hope it will be Apple, because then I'll know the system will be designed with elegance, style, user friendliness, and top-of-the-line hardware/software/OS integration.
     
  2. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #2
    A big market...

    A big market that's going to hit "any day now" is Uncle Sam.

    Its common knowledge that his secure wireless policy is still TBD, but the situation is that there's only one supplier reportedly interested in playing right now, namely Blackberry.

    If no one else climbs onboard soon, BB's going to have a pretty healthy-sized sole source market locked in at whatever price they want to charge. Thus is made profitable business opportunities.


    -hh
     
  3. D*I*S_Frontman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    Lombard, IL
    #3
    BlackBerry

    Just looked @ the BlackBerry site. They certainly have the right idea, but their PDAs are butt-ugly and have those annoying micro-keyboards--blecch!

    Apple should design the hardware/OS and run BlackBerry's CRM software using their network systems. Or develop a competing system along the same lines. Obscene amounts of capital are going to be made once these systems become widely adopted.
     
  4. NavyIntel007 macrumors 65816

    NavyIntel007

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    #4
    Why apple should not!

    I disagree. What exactly do you want? More memory for less money... fat chance. Anything that would come out of apple would cost at least $500.

    And you think apple will just magically whisp away with major marketshare in enterprise? Be serious, people have been using palms for almost a decade, Pocket PC's for half that. They have programs that sync with the server software (i.e. quickbooks, database...etc.) and won't switch without all these programs coming to. My dad's used a palm for 8 years, then we bought him the Dell Axim. He didn't know quite what to say. He wouldn't even look at anything out of Apple.

    M$ and Symbol are already doing this. Plus they have the backing of developers. Again you assume that everyone will just port their products to mac... porting costs money.

    Not realistic. There are 3 or 4 different types of wireless with many more providers. So you end up building 4 or 5 different models of the same thing. Production cost would be outragous. And you have to assume the wireless providers are going to jump on board.

    Certainly not. The market is way too saturated.

    You talk about enterprise and don't see the value of video conferencing? So you don't want all these extras? The Palm Zire has everything you claim to want for $99 (or free with a set of tires).

    Who knows? Next you'll be suggesting Apple directly compete with Starbucks.
     
  5. D*I*S_Frontman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    Lombard, IL
    #5
    Reply

    "And you think apple will just magically whisp away with major marketshare in enterprise? Be serious, people have been using palms for almost a decade, Pocket PC's for half that. They have programs that sync with the server software (i.e. quickbooks, database...etc.) and won't switch without all these programs coming to. My dad's used a palm for 8 years, then we bought him the Dell Axim. He didn't know quite what to say. He wouldn't even look at anything out of Apple."


    I'm not talking about merely syncing with server software. I'm talking about continual communication with said server remotely from anywhere. Of course he wouldn't look at anything from Apple--to date they've stayed out of this market the same way they stayed out of the enterprise rackmount server market until recently.
    _____

    "Not realistic. There are 3 or 4 different types of wireless with many more providers. So you end up building 4 or 5 different models of the same thing. Production cost would be outragous. And you have to assume the wireless providers are going to jump on board."

    Same basic system operating on any voice CDMA digital network. Wireless providers don't want more business? Sprint, for one, have been falling all over themselves to implement these kinds of technologies.
    _____

    "M$ and Symbol are already doing this. Plus they have the backing of developers. Again you assume that everyone will just port their products to mac... porting costs money."

    Of course you are right here. But if a cross-platform solution (QuickBooks?) hosted on XServes fed into a wireless communications system could work, the rest of the office and all of their other servers could remain in the PC world.

    Based on this kind of logic (fear of Mac OS-PC net compatability/entering an M$ dominated field), should Apple EVER have developed or marketed the XServe?

    IT people DO indeed look at these things. But a low maintenance reliable solution that resulted in productivity gains can sway them to take a chance, especially if the competition does and begins leveraging an advantage.
    _____

    "You talk about enterprise and don't see the value of video conferencing? So you don't want all these extras?"

    "Extras" have to meet two crucial criteria--do you need it to make more money faster, and do you need it in a PDA? A strong argument can be made that videoconferencing is an economic and highly advantageous way to get business done. But with a PDA? Come on, now. If you have doing a videoconference of ANY consequence, you are in a conference room or office, as are the decision makers on the other end. Or, if you HAVE to do one remotely, you would use a laptop with more computing muscle. The Dick Tracy wristwatch communicator is a nice fantasy, but unless it equals $$$, it is not worth doing.
    _____
     
  6. NavyIntel007 macrumors 65816

    NavyIntel007

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    #6
    The Xserve is a great idea. It's a server that hits a price point that's much lower than PC servers. They basically modified a system architecture that they have been using with an OS that's in production and created it.

    For apple to release a PDA, they first would have to develop the hardware, then build an OS from the ground up. That costs money... which will be reflected in the finishing price. They would cost $1000. They could cut some of the fat off if they just licensed Palm OS 5 and gave it some apple flavor, maybe running programs off a small hard drive instead of memory but they still would have to develop the hardware.

    Not to mention when you start branching out to other areas, you lose developers for products that work with yours. This is sort of happening with PocketPC. There is not as many applications for it as there is for Palm.

    There are proven players in the handheld arena. Take Sharp, the linux challenger. It's having an uphill battle taking on Palm and PocketPC. It's got Geek appeal but that's about it. An apple device will have some macaddicts yanking out their wallets, some crying that it should be better but most sitting there thinking... I have my Palm V and a cell phone... why?

    Lets keep Apple as Apple, not some hydra-like Microsoft wannabe.
     
  7. D*I*S_Frontman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    Lombard, IL
    #7
    Reply to NavyIntel007:

    "The Xserve is a great idea. It's a server that hits a price point that's much lower than PC servers. They basically modified a system architecture that they have been using with an OS that's in production and created it."

    Still, we have porting issues, don't we? But at least we are in agreement with this point--XServe is a good idea.
    _____

    "For apple to release a PDA, they first would have to develop the hardware, then build an OS from the ground up. That costs money... which will be reflected in the finishing price. They would cost $1000. They could cut some of the fat off if they just licensed Palm OS 5 and gave it some apple flavor, maybe running programs off a small hard drive instead of memory but they still would have to develop the hardware."

    I seem to remember a little thingy called the Newton... and even though it was scrapped, there is some basic R&D from that project to build from. And as far as developing hardware goes, what about the iPod? Wasn't that developed from scratch? Seems to me that Apple is FANTASTIC at building attractive, stylish, and functional hardware--just compare the elegance of the AlBooks to their bloated competition.
    _____

    "Not to mention when you start branching out to other areas, you lose developers for products that work with yours. This is sort of happening with PocketPC. There is not as many applications for it as there is for Palm."

    I don't think it follows that developers would be "lost" in such a project. Isn't there currently an embarrassing ABSENCE of large enterprise Mac platform CRM software and inventory systems? If anything, a good workable system might ATTRACT developers to the OSX platform.

    ..and the iPod was a "branching out" exercise which has made an absolute boatload of cash...
    _____

    "There are proven plyers in the handheld arena. Take Sharp, the linux challenger. It's having an uphill battle taking on Palm and PocketPC. It's got Geek appeal but that's about it. An apple device will have some macaddicts yanking out their wallets, some crying that it should be better but most sitting there thinking... I have my Palm V and a cell phone... why?"

    For this to work, the Apple PDA sytem must be to its market what the iPod was for the mp3 player market--so stunningly superior in function, style and build that it crushes all comers. In this case, the entire system--server software (ready for cross-platform work with PC apps), wireless connectivity, security, PDA build/appearance, PDA OS--would all have to be in place, working seemlessly, and scalable to huge numbers of users. If that could be delivered, it would pound on the competition. If not, then you are absolutely right. But packaged and marketed correctly, such a system could be a cash cow for Apple, at least until the PC world rushes to copy every detail of its operation.
    _____

    "Lets keep Apple as Apple, not some hydra-like Microsoft wannabe."

    Apple makes hardware and software solutions for consumers and creative professionals. This could easily fit into that niche. And hydras that pay off (i.e., iPod) are nice things to have when CPU markets go to the dogs, as they do from time to time.

    BTW--thanks for your insights, NavyIntel007. It is pleasant to have criticisms of my ideas without flaming.
     

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