Thursday, January 1, 1998

Jeff Hawkins, creator of the PalmPilot

THE PALMPOWER INTERVIEW

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FIGURE A

Jeff Hawkins, PalmPilot Inventor (click for larger image)

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It seems fitting to kick off our Premier Issue by having a candid conversation with Jeff Hawkins, the man who started Palm Computing (now part of 3Com) and created the PalmPilot. Prior to his chat with Hawkins, 3Com PR personnel gave Editor-in-Chief David Gewirtz some interesting background on Hawkins' success: over a million PalmPilots shipped in 18 months, a 66% market share, and the fastest growth of any computing product in history, faster than the TV and the VCR.

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DG:

You started a software product and ended up with what is an amazingly successful piece of hardware. How does that make you feel?

JH:

(laughing) It feels good. What really feels good is that people like the product. Since we're all product people here, there's nothing else that makes me happier than people saying &quot;Hey this is great, it's changed my life.&quot; That feels great. On the other hand, looking forward, I think we've just begun. There's a huge opportunity here. As much as I like the PalmPilot and the way the product is now, we're probably in the Apple II days of the handheld computing business. So there's a lot of future ahead of us.


"Looking forward, I think we've just begun. We're probably in the Apple II days of the handheld computing business."
DG:

Can you give me an idea of where that future is?

JH:

Well, I won't give you product release information. But if you go back to the beginning of Palm, when I started the company, essentially the pitch I had when I raised funding was that handheld computers on a unit basis were going to be far larger than desktop and laptop computers combined. I felt that the appeal of a handheld, a pocket-size device, was very universal. People will have them, their kids will have them.

And I see it in different markets with different needs, going everywhere from kids in grade school, to college, to business people. In a broad sense we have a very big vision about where our market's going to go, without seeing any of the particular technologies. But we think pocket-size access to data, including communications data, is almost a fundamental need. Almost like the telephone or something. So we're just optimistic and excited about trying to come up with products that appeal to a lot of these people.

DG:

Do you think that having that much access to data all the time sort of creates more information overload? Or do you think that makes it less of a problem?