Probably the most requested device in the Brighthand forums is an updated version of the very popular Palm TX. But this raises the question, what do people want in their next handheld that isn’t in a current one?
The Brighthand editorial staff and I were talking this over, and we came up with an idea: let’s ask our readers. You are the people who are going to be buying this device, so you should get a chance to have some input into its design.
Obviously, I can’t promise you that your suggestions will be made into this company’s next handheld, but Brian Beeler and I recently had a conversation with a top-level Palm executive who said his company was open to ideas on what to include in a replacement for the TX. So this isn’t just a thought exercize. You could be helping to design an upcoming model.
To keep everyone from wasting their time, I’ve laid down some guidelines for this project.
Be Realistic: We’re designing a product that’s going to have to compete in the marketplace, not your dream handheld. When putting together your recommendations, consider that this device probably needs to sell for less than $500, and it would be better if the price was about $300.
So don’t rattle off every feature you can think of. There are going to have to be trade-offs. What is the minimum feature set you think this device needs to be a viable successor to the Palm TX or LifeDrive?
Be Persuasive: Don’t just say you think this model needs a 60 GB hard drive, tell us why you think so. Palm doesn’t have to follow any of these suggestions, and you have a better hope of having your recommendations included in an upcoming handheld if you can explain why they are necessary.
Be Creative: I’d like to be able to give the people at Palm some suggestions for devices that aren’t just the TX with more internal storage. They can come up with that themselves.
Also, keep in mind, this device can’t debut before 2008, and will probably still be on store shelves two years later. So think ahead, and consider what a handheld would need to be a competitive product in 2010.
At the same time, don’t forget about the "Be Realistic" guideline.
Be Complete: Don’t just say you think the next handheld from Palm needs a built-in keyboard and WiMAX, give us an overview of the whole device. What combination of hardware and software do you think would be a successful replacement for the TX?
I’m leaving the question of operating system open to you. Should Palm stick with the tried and true Garnet OS, go with the upcoming Linux-based Palm OS 2, or make its first Windows Mobile handheld?
In the hardware area, you should consider your model’s size and shape, screen resolution, processor, built-in storage, memory card slots, input methods, and wireless capabilities.
And don’t forget about software. If you’re targeting your design at a certain group, it’s best to include the applications those people will need to perform their basic tasks.
Think hard about what you want in the next Palm handheld — keeping the guidelines in mind — and then share your thoughts in the Brighthand forum.
In a week or two I’ll go through the list of suggestions and try to organize them into a poll, giving the community the opportunity to show which of the suggestions would be the most popular.