Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Everything old is new again - The Handheld Wars

After reading Gregg's post today and the follow-up conversation on his entry, it got me to thinking about all of the conversations that I've had recently at work. You see dear readers, I believe that we are at the dawn of the post-modern PC era.  (Like most techies don't know that already.)  But what's funny to me is, that just like how things were back in the early 90's with the PC revolution, we are seeing that today with handhelds.   I remember one of the fun things we used to do back then was to go to "Computer Shows" that were either at a Shriner Hall or at the local Holiday Inn.  They were sights to behold.  Mind you, this was back before the public Internet explosion and this would be the place to buy shareware software.  I can remember the first version of Castle Wolfenstien 3D bought at one of those...and the ensuing headaches and nausea from playing the game non-stop.  But the shows were usually broke down into distinct areas.  First, and always most populated, was the MS-DOS based apps and hardware area.  Those consumed the largest area.  Then came the Apple and Amiga areas.  They were usually surrounded by people that smelled earthy and wore tie dye shirts.  Again, another story.
So how does that fit in to today's explosion of gadget pr0n?  Easily.  I'm going to use the example we've been using at work and build upon the ones I used on Gregg's site, but with an addition.
Android - The Android/Google OS is the DOS of the day. It can run on many different devices and is pretty solid. You are not just stuck to one piece of hardware.  Multiple vendors with multiple devices from phones to the eventual droid pad devices.  I even read late last week that in India, the government is subsidizing a computer that runs the Android software and will only cost $35 each.  How much longer will it be until something like that hits the States?
iOS - Just like back in the day, Apple doesn't play with anyone.  If you want an Apple branded OS, you bought an Apple computer.  If you want the iPhone/iPad device functionality, you buy one of their devices.  Period.  While their fan base is both loyal and growing, I don't think it will really grow until Apple is able to shake free the shackles of AT&T.  When one of them show up on Verizon or Sprint, then the party really starts.  Us in the hill country outside of the big cities don't have the GSM coverage like the city folk do.  But CDMA coverage is usually pretty good, even 3G in some places.
WebOS - Like the Amiga, people who have it, love it.  But, with HP still getting their house in order from the acquisition of Palm, I fear this platform is losing ground fast.  I know HP has already said that they are not going to use the next version of Windows Mobile on their mobile devices moving forward, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Is it too late for the platform I wonder?  Only time will tell.  For now though, I will continue to keep my Palm TX by my bedside as both an alarm clock and RSS reader.  I love that old thing.
BlackBerry - Has this become the modern day analogy for the mainframe?  What did mainframes do?  What they were told and they did them well.  That's why it's taken forever for them to go away.  What does BlackBerry do? What it's suppose to do, and does it well.  But like mainframes, they lack the sexy factor.  I know BlackBerry 6 is around the corner, but I am also hearing that devices like the Curve 2 and the Storm 2, two heavily sold devices, will not support the next sexy OS.  So will that alienate users who would rather spend their money on a new Droid or iPhone rather then a new BlackBerry that may or may not do what they want it to?  Again, time will tell.  But I really do hope that RIM is able to pull it together, bring the sexy back and put out devices that are rock solid like they used to be.  As of late, we are seeing a large number of devices coming back to HQ that are broken.  Just like how the latter day Treo's were.  Time will tell.

For now, I'm just hoping that Lotus is able to keep up with the non BlackBerry devices and get support for them on Traveler ASAP.  I know we've had a huge win with the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch as well as the left over Windows Mobile devices on Traveler.  I just hope they are able to keep that win going!  I know they will, I'm just impatient.


Gregg Eldred said...

Interestingly, no section concerning Windows Mobile. Not that it surprises me, since MS has to play catch-up to everything else. Although, their ActiveSync is a standard.

Andy Donaldson said...

You know, I thought about that. But like the Timex Sinclair 1000, I think Windows Mobile is heading that way too. Mind you, I LOVED my Timex Sinclair 1000 pimped out with the 16K expansion. I don't think in my opinion that Windows Mobile is going to be a player much longer. But, that's just me ;-)

Lotus Evangelist said...

I use a WM device and while many will make fun of me and its bloated software, it works and works well for Sametime and Traveler and that is what my clients and I need access to on a device.
In time I agree WM will disappear but for now it works, Android is finally available for AT&T which we are on so I will look at that in the future.

Joseph Hoetzl said...

Wow, A TS1000 - with that McDonalds cash register like membrane keyboard! And computer shows - wow, just retired the last of the PC's I built from parts purchased at a computer show - was an Intel Pentium "1" based system. You probably also remember when "Computer shopper" was the Sear's wishbook of all things PC.

Anyway, pretty good analogies there - but perhaps Blackberry is more a mix of OS/2 and the Mainframe ;-)

Andy Donaldson said...

Ohh...forgot about the OS/2 to be thrown in the mix. That does make sense for the BlackBerry. Good one, Joe!