Things were certainly happening at PC Expo in New York last week. Not necessarily for PCs, but certainly for PDAs. There constantly were huge crowds at the booths of Palm Computing (PalmPilot), Handspring (Visor), and Sony, trying to get a closer look at the products. Especially Sony, also showcasing all kinds of other gadgets like new digital cameras and VAIO notebooks, was swamped by visitors all day. Sony previewed a prototype of its still nameless PDA based on the Palm OS. It features Sony's Memory Stick media slot for removable memory, Jog Dial control for navigation, and in its first generation it is supposed to come with digital imaging capabilities. So far, Sony has not announced anything regarding availability and pricing.
While Sony, Palm Computing and Handspring base their PDAs on the Palm OS platform, they go different ways when it comes to expansion modules. Palm Computing unveiled at PC Expo that the new Palm products will feature a SD Card slot for data storage and I/O access. The SD Card was established by Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), SanDisk, and Toshiba. It is compatible with existing MultiMedia Cards (MMC), which means that users will be able to use these cards in SD-equipped Palm devices.
So, now we have expansion modules in form of the SD Card (Palm), Memory Stick (Sony), Springboard (Visor), and Compact Flash (TGRPro). All this gets pretty confusing for consumers, and of course the different technologies are completely incompatible. Haven't these companies learned anything from the past? Proprietary standards are never a good idea. Just image this kind of thing had happened in the PC world. Major PC manufacturers like Compaq, Dell, Gateway and others decided to each use a floppy drive that is incompatible with the drives of other manufacturers. Well, you could not just simply copy a file to a floppy, take it to your friends' house and copy it on his or her machine - unless it is the same brand. Even Apple decided at one point that it would be a good idea for Macs to be able to read discs that had been formatted on a PC... If handheld systems, and that also includes cell phones, MP3 players, and similar devices, all used the same expansion standard, it would be possible to share peripherals among them. What a concept!
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