USR (2) - $99 products by year 2000

Will you go in the direction of wireless messaging?
Written by Martin Veitch, Contributor

There are some real challenges there. I don't believe that it will be a huge thing in the near-term. In Europe, the GSM system is more widely deployed and more consistent. Here in the US it's a mess. Cost is a big issue.

How about linking more closely to desktop apps?

It's absolutely our entire design premise. We're now shipping link software from Puma that maps Pilot to Schedule+, Sidekick, Ecco and other PIMs and schedulers.

How about moving towards vertical solutions?

We're very much focused on the horizontal market. {The Pilot] is for business professionals, not my mother. We'll enable vertical suppliers through our development kit. There are more than 10 unsolicited Web sites out there and 1,500 developers, so we'll see a wide array of tools - everything from drawing and database to games. Also, corporates will work to tie in things like group schedulers to match the way they work.

How soon can you get price low enough to make handhelds truly ubiquitous?

$199 is the first goal we'd like to reach. I want to be at $99 as much as anybody but it's hard in the near future. If you're looking at three years, it's possible. We want to be the biggest maker of handhelds in the world.

Who are your most dangerous competitors?

Clearly, in my mind, Psion has done the best job out of anybody in the game. PC companies think in terms of legacy systems. They have a PC mind-set. Apple, HP, Microsoft all think 'it's got to run [Mac or Windows]'. About a year ago when we were bought by USR, we felt we needed to grow the company. We felt that as soon as people saw the product they would say 'Aha!'. There's some competition out there and there will be more. Our first aim was to build critical mass. We want to sell millions of these things but we know that the encore is always more difficult than the first act.

Would more standardisation of the OS or UI be a good thing for the market?

There are really two categories of users: the corporate and the consumer. For the corporate, the ability to program to a standard interface and customise is very important. For the consumer, it's like another piece of consumer electronics and I don't think they could give a flying you-know. It's more important that you should tie into the desktop and we tie into Windows better than anybody even though there's not an ounce of Windows code in [Pilot]. In fact, it's based on a Motorola 68000 and Mac development tools.

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