Tuesday, 25 September 2007

The deceptive allure of the sub-PC

Something I wrote for Rubicon Consulting:

The cancellation of the Palm Foleo marks the latest in a long string of failed attempts to create a market for keyboard-based devices that are smaller, simpler, and cheaper than personal computers. Computer companies have been trying to make sub-PCs work since the 1980s, but the only place I know of where they have been a major success is in Japan, where the complexities of typing in Japanese encouraged many people to buy cheap word processors instead of typewriters.

Why do so many companies keep trying to get under the PC market? And do they have any chance of success? The answer is a lesson in the right and wrong ways to think about product strategy.

Listening to the customers

Anyone who has ever done research on PC users quickly notices a striking pattern--most of the features of a PC rarely get used. Here's a typical result from a research study asking US adults which applications they use at least once a week on their home PCs...

You can read the rest of the article on the company website here. No registration required.

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