Mitch Dad, Kapor Dad
Paradoxically, the savior of the PDA concept may ultimately prove not to be anyone at Microsoft or PalmSource or even Nintendo, but a smal development group spearheaded by
Mitch Kapor. Kapor is best-known for founding Lotus (and less-known for also founding group-calendaring-turned-network-management company On Technology), but another of his great claims to fame was Agenda, an innovative idea management software product that Lotus traded for the eye candy of Lotus Organizer. Agenda had some of the intelligence that was also present in Newton.
Now, Kapor has teamed up with Mac legend Andy Hertzfeld to imbue the "spirit" of Agenda into a new open-source product called Chandler, the first development release of which occurred last month. Chandler may not be focused on artificial intelligence, but it has several key components - easy information sharing, an eye toward Web services, and a platform focus intended to enable people to create add-ons within a matter of days, not weeks.
Palm defined the body of the modern PDA, but no company has developed its personality. Without an application that has a daily impact for the average consumer, the market potential for handhelds will be caught in the middle -- split between geeks who can appreciate the often abstract value of a versatile handheld computer and those who download their contacts and calendars to their cell phones. Did the original mission of the PDA die with Newton? Is it waiting in the wings at Microsoft? Or will Chandler deliver it? E-mail me. Wireless Supersite Editor Ross Rubin is a senior analyst at eMarketer. He has researched wireless communications since 1994 and has been covering technology since 1989. More from Ross Rubin:
Solutions built on Chandler could create applications that truly conform to your life rather than just the workaday brain supplements of tracking contacts and calendars. Its a longshot, though. Chandler will be available on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux; the team is still mum on how theyll even sync to todays PDAs, but hopes other developers will bring the product to other platforms (such as Windows CE?).