Do You Love your H/PC or not?

An Editorial By Clinton Fitch

When I shared with Chris Tilley that I was writing an editorial piece, he was taken aback. He pointed out that editorials are not really my style and, to be truthful, he is right on that matter. In the 3-plus years of writing in the Handheld PC community, I have never written an editorial piece. Perhaps that speaks volumes, perhaps not. Whatever the case, I believe I have an obligation to say something now.

It has been said that the Handheld community is dying. The logic, as I've been told, is that manufacturers are more focused on the quick and easy sales of Pocket PCs and developers are following along. To a large degree this is true. Microsoft reported this week that their mobile division reported a 66% increase in sales for the forth quarter of 2003. That 66% is almost exclusively Pocket PC sales.

To continue the logic, the community has turned to Microsoft and laying blame on them. Many question Microsoft's commitment to the Handheld PC platform and development has all but stopped on applications that Microsoft once put out for the H/PC.

Why?

The H/PC community is apathetic.

Don't believe me? Go do a Google or Yahoo! search for Handheld PC. Then go do a search for Pocket PC. You will see rapidly that Pocket PC sites outnumber H/PC sites by more than a substantial margin. I'm not suggesting that every user go and dedicate a website to the platform as Chris (HPC:Factor), Sammy (Handheld Addict), Henri (Handheld Attitude), Tari (Handheld Underground), and Eugenio (Handheld Zone) have done. We spend our own time and money on these sites for you.

What I am suggesting is that you support the developers. Developing software is like any other type of business. You go where the money is being spent. Right now, Pocket PC users are outspending Handheld PC users by a monumental margin. Therefore, from a developer perspective, there is no reason to develop or continue to develop the H/PC platform because it is money being thrown away. This leads to platform death. That death is not the fault of the developer or Microsoft. It is the fault of the community that does not support development. In that case, the H/PC community leads the way.

If users want to see new and exciting applications come out on the H/PC platform, two key things have to happen. First, manufacturers have to produce new devices. This, as some have suggested, is not dead. NEC still sells the Mobile Pro 900 and other lesser know manufactures produce H/PC based units. This will continue as people are figuring out that the Pocket PC platform is not functional enough for most business or heavy user needs.

The second is that the community itself has to begin spending money and supporting developers. I get painfully tired of hearing users complain about the lack of applications or the cost of those applications. To make matters worse, I get on average 10 emails a week asking for me to give a copy of a reviewed piece of software to them for free. Folks, free don't pay the development bills. Wares don't do the trick either. The only way those bills - equipment, code and developer salary - get paid is by you opening your wallet and spending money for an application. Your willingness and ability to do that speaks volumes to developers. It shows them you indeed like the application and wants to see more.

The question, at the end of this, is really rather simple: Do you love your H/PC or not? How do you know if you love your H/PC? Here is a quick check list of questions to ask yourself:

  1. 1. Do I use my H/PC every day?
  2. Do I "worry" if I haven't sync'ed my data that day?
  3. Have I named my H/PC? (Mine 720 is named Pinkie)
  4. Do I visit all of the top H/PC sites every day?

If you can answer yes to all of those, then you need to add one more question to the list.

Am I willing to pay for this application that I use everyday?

The only way the H/PC community will continue is by saying yes to that last question. Financial support is fundamental to development and will cease if it is not provided.

If you can't answer yes to that last question then it is time to re-evaluate why you have an H/PC.

January 23, 2004

Clinton Fitch
Chief Reviews Editor