Crazy about Palm computers

By: J.D. Hildebrand

Abstract: Forget what I said yesterday. The fastest route to nerd fame and geek glory takes you right through Palmland. By J.D. Hildebrand.

Crazy about Palm computers

By J.D. Hildebrand

In yesterday's note, you may recall, I urged you to reconsider the Macintosh platform as a target for your development efforts. Steve Jobs is back, the new systems are fun and funky, and Apple's selling a gazillion of them. Why not fight for market share, I asked, in a market where you've got a fighting chance?

Today I reverse myself -- a pundit's prerogative. If you're in search of a hot business opportunity, the iMac is fine. But you're better off supporting Palm Computing's insanely popular Palm computers.

Palm computers are as contagious as the flu. On Monday someone brings one to the office, exposing his co-workers. On Wednesday a couple guys in the carpool have bought them. By Friday, everybody's using the IR ports to exchange contact data across the conference table.

The Palm computer is a perfect blend of geek chic and irresistible usefulness. It's a computer you carry around with you even on days you don't anticipate needing a computer. It's no wonder International Data Corp. reports that Palm Computing's little wonders command 73 percent of the U.S. market for "personal companion" products.

As if all that weren't enough to fuel the continued swelling of the installed base, this week 3Com made some announcements certain to make sales skyrocket.

The first is a series of price reductions. On 4 October, 3Com slashed prices across the product line. The Palm VII was reduced from US$599 to US$499, the Palm V from US$449 to US$369, the Palm IIIx from US$369 to US$299, and the entry-level Palm IIIe from $229 to $179.

At $179, the Palm IIIe makes a perfect holiday gift for students. Especially if you add the new Palm III Color Shades kit (US$12.95), which includes translucent lime, blue, and aqua flip-covers.

In a no-apologies bid to boost holiday sales, Palm Computing has introduced two limited-edition organizers for the season. The US$449 Palm Vx Special Edition is a Palm V with 8MB of RAM and juiced-up HotSync speeds. The US$179 Palm IIIe Special Edition is a Palm IIIe with a clear plastic case.

The top of the line is the US$499 Palm VII, which uses a wireless connection and the Palm.Net service to let users connect to the Internet and e-mail systems. Palm Computing has revised its Palm.Net subscription plans, adding a high-volume plan that will accommodate users who download as many as 900 screens of data per month. Among the Internet content providers using Palm's "Web clipping" protocol to provide Palm-friendly Web pages are abcnews.com, Bank of America, espn.com, Etak, E*Trade, Fidelity Investments, Fodor's, Frommer's, OAG, Ticketmaster, usatoday.com, Visa International, and Yahoo!

All of this helps explain why more than 18,000 third-party developers have signed up to create add-ons for the 4 million-plus Palm user base. You should be one of them! Don't get left behind...visit the official Palm Developer Zone and get up-to-date on development kits, languages, form builders, and tools. Be sure to check out the Fatbrain Palm Developer Zone for documentation and resource kits.

You too can be part of the handheld revolution.

An award-winning writer and editor, J.D. Hildebrand is the content director and editor-in-chief of Inprise's developer community.


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