I don't need to tell any of you that a big part of the appeal of REALbasic is how easily you can support a new platform. Well, we have been working for a while now on supporting a new platform. I'm not talking about Cocoa, which you all know we are hard at work on. There's a device that has had millions and millions of users, has been extremely popular amongst both individuals and corporate users and yet has surprisingly little support in terms of development tools. And supporting it has been one of the most requested features from our customers. I'm talking about of course, the Palm Pilot.
There was once a lot of development tools available for the Palm Pilot but most of them are gone now. And the few that are left are focused on the Palm Treo. Don't get me wrong, smartphones have their place but there are still a lot of Palm Pilots out there and they're not all in landfills. I think the reason there hasn't been much new software is that the development tools have mostly gone away. It's a huge potential market that no one has tapped into in years. While those that are still using Palm Pilots these days tend to be what Geoffrey Moore referred to as "laggards" in his book, Crossing the Chasm, that doesn't mean they won't buy software. It's just going to take a different kind of approach. Consider John Scherer, the CEO of Video Professor. He does those commercials on late night TV where he offers a free CD that teaches you how to use eBay. I think that kind of approach would be very effective for selling new software titles to Palm Pilot users. And consider this: these people haven't bought a new software application for their Palm Pilot is years! So their interest level in something new could be quite high!
The key to this approach will be to get an app store application onto these Palm Pilots. That will make the marketing and purchasing process a lot easier. We will provide the App Store application and the commerce system that will drive it. To get the app store application onto these Palm Pilots, we will be doing some direct mailings using some mailing lists that Palm oddly enough, was quite happy to give us for free. We are also going to partner with the folks that make the Snuggie and the ShamWow as our research shows that a lot of Palm Pilot users also buy these products. Strange, but true. Now of course the Palm Pilot has no direct Internet connectivity. But a lot of Palm Pilot users are not that comfortable with the Internet anyway. So the app store application will simply present a telephone number they can call where they can speak to a real person that can tell them about the apps that are available, take their order and then send them a disk with the software. The disk will then come with a number they can call should they need help installing the software. I think this kind of hand-holding is not only essential but will be quite appreciated.
Once our support for the Palm Pilot is ready, we will need you to develop some cool apps. But it is going to require some additional attention to detail as most Palm Pilots only have about 8 megs of RAM and many don't have color screens. Also, we only plan to support the Palm V and newer models as we have to draw the line somewhere. If you don't have a Palm Pilot, you can pick one up on eBay since Palm only sells the Treo these days.
So start thinking now about what your first Palm Pilot app will be!