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How to invest in PDAs

Friday, October 14, 1994 by Dave Winer.


Next stop on the hit parade of hot topics in the software industry: PDAs and what's going on there, how will it shake out, and where investment dollars should go in search of the mobile user for 1994 and 1995.

First, a PDA is a peripheral device for people with desktop computers. A way of carrying around your appointment calendar, address book, and to receive news from home.

I think any entry in this market has to have a very tight connection with desktop computers. Newton and General Magic seem to believe that the PDAs are useful *without* a strong link to desktop systems. Fatal flaw.

What about the PDA form factor? Because the keyboard situation is so awkward, and there's no solution in sight, I don't see them as input devices. Using a PDA to write email is like using a ski pole to dig a trench. If you're an email writer who travels, the only answer is to carry a *real* keyboard with you, not a virtual one as seen in Magic Cap. And as long as you're carrying a real keyboard, why not carry a screen that's big enough? And backlit? And while you're at it, why not carry an industry standard OS with you, like Windows or Mac?

I thought WinPad had it exactly right. But it seems that Microsoft has cold feet, or is dragging its feet, or is waiting for someone to dip in their toe first. Maybe they're waiting to kick off their new online service? Yeah!

Interesting observation -- now that Microsoft owns Intuit, they also own software that's bundled with Magic Cap. Straaaaange bedfellows, eh?

Anyway -- if you're an investor or developer and want to put a bet down on really mobile computing -- what should you do?

As always, if you aren't interested in this kind of stuff, send me email and I'll happily delete your name from the list. And it's OK to forward this email anywhere you like.

Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."