Meeting Notes for November 26, 1996 - BA274
Subject: PDAs - the Newton's
Attendees: Lark Dunham, Sandra Doi, John Dick, Shailen
Mistry, Kensuke Yaegashi
Discussion Leader: Sandra Doi
is an acronym for Personal Digital Assistant.
A Little History, A Little Background:
- Searching the American Business Index under "PDA" brings
up over 300 entries dating from 1992 when the term Personal Digital Assistant
(PDA) was first coined by Apple Computer a the release of its Newton 100.
- Though various types of personal organizers existed before Apple's
entry, much of the interest in the industry came from Apple's high profile
entry into the market.
- The Project Codenamed Newton was first announced by then-President
John Sculley back in 1992. Introduction at MacWorld met with optimism and
skepticism in equal portions. Two Articles read:
- PDA: Killer Breakthrough Technology or the Next Hoolahoop
- Put an Office in the Palm of your Hand
Most journalists in 1992 agreed that the first ones weeat best, prototypes.
- Apple predicted selling over a million of its Newtons. Acutal first
year sales - 80,000
From reading early articles, people either hailed it as the coming of
a new age in every-man computing, or a "next generation killer toy
for bored yuppies."
The first Newton's were problem plagued:
- Handwriting Recongnition snafus made infamous by Doonesbury strips
which poked a weeks' worth of fun at the Newton's tendency to turn English
into Wonderland-ish dialogue.
- Battery life was less than impressive
- Lack of connectivity to the desktop and internet
- Writing with the stylus was painfully slow
Apple persevered, despite the fact that the:
- Mass market did not emerge at the points of $800 and up
- Competition persevered as well (Pilot, Microsoft's Pegasus)
- Press continued to ridicule
- Apple was financially plagued.
So where does that leave us today.
Newton just announced its fourth generation product - Newton 2000 due
John noted that Pilot's seem to be more popular. Possibly this is due
to the size (truly pocket sizd) and the price of $300.
- prices have to be under $500 for the mass market
- size of the Pilot and PC compatibility necessary
Most of us agreed that the tone of articles seem less skeptical. Why?
- better connectivity
- handwriting recognition finally living up to the hype
Breakthrough will require the "killer app" whatever that may
- Truly wireless, no-hassle email functionality?
- Color, wireless web surfing?
- Wireless client-server relationship (ex. Newton's in the UCB Library)
- Navigation progams? GPS connection?
Perhaps PDA will never breathrough to the mass market:
- Could be a viable niche player - Apple is concentrating on selling
to vertical markets. Workgroups, and "anyone with a clipboard"
- Users are very loyal. As fanatic about the Newton as any hard core
Mac user. There were many personal websites, user groups, news groups,
and developers devoted to the product.
Other articles reviewed:
San Francisco Business Times Article - Oct 96 "Beefed
up PDAs back to Kick Sand..."