Special Features

Great technology or late technology
By: Dave - June 21, 2001

Sony, Sony, Sony. As a kid, I always wanted to buy Sony. "How much is the Sony," my Dad would always ask when we were searching for new audio or video equipment. "How does that compare to, the Sony?" In this wild market of PDA's, I still hear this from people, but usually, it is how does the Palm m505 compare to that new Sony (the Sony being referred to as the lesser of the two). In my mind, Sony never really took off as a big player in PDA's. Sony's devices always seem to enter the market a little to late for me, after everyone else has released at least one device. Their first device wasn't revolutionary. It only had one thing, the Memory Stick; a technology that is in my mind is far dead. Let me explain why I say that.

I was probably ten when I first heard of the Sony Memory Stick. In 1993, the Memory Stick was going to be revolutionary. Memory, on a stick of gum, and we were thrilled with just a megabyte or so. Alas, the years passed, and no new technology. CF came out, and Smart Media. Finally, Sony started using this technology I had heard about so long ago. Their devices came out, they were expensive, and nobody bought them. Duh. I could have told them that would happen. Companies could learn a lot from me. Make good technology, like the Memory Stick. Then market it for as cheap as other similar devices are. You might have to take lower profits for a while, but once people like your technology, make the new stuff, more expensive. 

Sony releases, their first CLIE. Black and White, same as everyone else though we do have some color devices. Sony presents a compact size, a jog dial, and a memory stick slot. They price it about that same as everybody else, and in my mind they lost some market share. Releasing later is not better because people have already shelled out $500 for the newest Palm, why do they want yours too. To the average user, some of the features like 320x320 resolution, were just not a "big turn on".

Sony goes back to the drawing board. Palm released more devices. The m500 series hits the market along with Handsprings Visor Edge and Handera's device just as Sony breaks the news of one of their Japanese devices coming to the US. Once again, Sony releases after many other device releases which helps to overshadow their device. The CLIE n710c has a 16-bit color screen and a new CLIE design. It still has nothing really new, like Handera's dual slots or virtual graffiti. It doesn't have even a revised memory slot or more expandability like the m505. The screen is slightly smaller then other devices, though it still has that "better resolution" (limited to certain programs).

By now, you think I hate Sony. I do not. I still look at Sony like I did in the past, but I think they have made some bad judgment calls on release dates. If their n710c had been out just before the other recent Palm OS devices came out (like about the time when Sony announced the Japanese versions), I couldn't say as much because at the time, it would have had quite a bit. The CLIE group at Sony should work harder on the US market, if they want a US market share. They are very focused on Japan, which isn't bad, but lets not forget the US with some new stuff. There is just as much money to be made over here as there is over there, if you just get your devices out sooner or at least with a cheaper price.

Feel free to email me about your own PDA, questions, comments, articles, rumors, and reviews.  I can be reached at dave@davespda.com.