It would be good to stop at this point and examine why this company succeeded when so many other companies failed. How was it able to produce a successful handheld? It wasn’t experience in hardware design—companies like Apple, Casio, and Hewlett-Packard clearly had more. It wasn’t the breadth of features—Windows CE and Newton devices had more. It wasn’t the price—Texas Instruments’ Avigo was cheaper. So what did the Palm offer that all these other companies weren’t providing? The answer was in the combination of features. It was a small, inexpensive handheld that worked great. These original units fit in a pocket easily, cost substantially less than most of the competitors’ products, and did tasks that handhelds were uniquely qualified to do (like provide address books and calendars). Wait, wait, some of you might be stuttering, What about the list of features, the processor speed, the amount of memory, and the pixel depth of color screens? Nope, those things weren’t compelling ingredients in the success story.
So, let’s return to the list of key features and discuss them relative to the current situation of the handheld world. Also, let’s look at the features, not in order of their importance, but in terms of how easy they are to understand. (As you will see, size is pretty easy to figure out, defining “works great” is a different kettle of fish.)