Palm Computing, Inc., released the Palm Pilot 1000 and 5000 in March 1996, in a technological climate that had weathered much disillusionment with handheld computing, owing largely to the unfortunate blunders in marketing the overhyped Newton Message Pad. The Palm Pilot, soon to have the word "Pilot" dropped from its name due to legal infringement on the Pilot Pen company's trademark, had a different approach to handwriting recognition than the Message Pad. It required that the user learn a glyphic alphabet that would allow the handwriting recognition software to use constraints as an aid to letter recognition. Thus, less processing power and software code would need to be dedicated to this task. This power came standard with the Palm's onboard operating system, the Palm operating system (OS).
The Early Days
The philosophy behind the Palm OS was also different than those found in other attempts at portable computing. Instead of trying to create a miniaturized version of the desktop experience, the Palm OS created a unique and optimized experience for mobile usage. The Palm OS was designed from the ground up to run on a wide variety of architectures, meaning that manufacturers had greater flexibility in designing systems that would have the Palm OS in its core. Other OSs typically tied the manufacturer to only one or two architectures. Another distinguishing feature of the Palm OS was its focus on usability. For example, details such as the Calendar application always opening up to the current day and hiding unused time blocks to reduce scrolling add up over the course of a day of actual usage by real users to many minutes worth of saved frustration and time.
More recently, the Palm OS has shown up in a new market; the cell phone or "smartphone." Several manufacturers have included the Palm OS in their cell phones. However, it is important to note that the Palm OS was not originally designed with cellular telephony in mind, and it may need to do some considerable mutation to keep up with other cellular telephony-savvy operating systems.
Analysis of Symbian (Nokia) Market share
Symbian is a software licensing company that was created in June 1998, and is jointly owned by Ericsson, Nokia, Panasonic, Motorola, Psion, Siemens, and Sony Ericsson. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Symbian has offices in Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Symbian is the supplier of the Symbian operating system; an open OS specifically designed for mobile data-enabled phones. The first Symbian-equipped telephone was the Nokia 9210 Communicator, which was released in the first half of 2001 (Abascal & Civit, 2007).
The Symbian OS really differs significantly from other OSs that have been repurposed from OSs for other types of devices into a telephone OS. Symbian has been optimized from the ground up for mobile systems that have limited resources and sporadic connectivity. Code reuse is a critical part of the Symbian design (Buchanan, et al. 2004). The C++ programming language is used for all Symbian code from the kernel level upward. Because Symbian was designed for the mobile phone industry, which relies heavily on telephone "personality" to target customers, the OS is highly customizable, allowing developers to reach inside the Symbian user interface code; which is modularized from the core operating system; in order to customize and personalize it for their own device. This level of customization is not possible with the Palm OS or any Microsoft OS. Most OS vendors believe that consistency across all devices is important for branding and usability. However, the mobile phone market is different from the desktop and notebook PC market; users want fashionable phones, or phones with a particular "feel" that reflects their own personalities and lifestyles. Hence, Symbian has a significant advantage over other inflexible options.
Symbian is designed so the network layer is sufficiently abstracted to make transition from one type of underlying wireless technology to another seamless. Wireless connectivity connection quality usually varies as a user moves from location to location, probably occasionally losing connectivity altogether for variable amounts of time. Symbian OS is robust against such variability, and instead of taking a "thin client" approach to design, empowers the client side as much as practical, given the resource constraints of mobile devices.
Series 60 is a platform that "rides" on top of the Symbian OS. It provides developers an environment in which to create and run applications that use key telephony and personal information management, browsing, messaging clients, and a complete and modifiable user interface. Series 60 developers have access to a rich set of developments tools, such as the Series 60 Software Development Kit, which includes libraries and application programming interfaces (APIs) needed to create content for Java, C++, Browsing (XHTML), and MMS. Microsoft PocketPC. PocketPC began life in the Ml of 1996 under a different name: Microsoft Windows CE, short for Compact Edition. The name was changed as of version 3.0, and this name is also used to describe a platform and class of mobile device. For example, the Compaq iPaq PocketPCs run the Microsoft PocketPC OS. The philosophy behind PocketPC was very different from the simplified, Spartan approach of the Palm OS. Rather than being a cut-down version of another Windows product, Windows CE was completely written from scratch, and was based around six core functionality modules. Even though the first-generation mobile products that ran Windows CE relied heavily on host computers; which effectively reduced them to "PC Companions"; they were designed to offer more functionality than Palm OS devices while maintaining the familiar Windows look and feel.
Do people use their mobile computing devices the same way that they use their desktop computers? The preliminary answer certainly seems to be "no." In an informal study of dozens of PDA usage case studies, we discovered that the majority of the case studies detailed usage modes that could not have been easily performed with traditional desktop PCs. As the name mobile computing suggests, portable computing devices are often used in environments where stationary PCs are not feasible. Desktop PCs are typically used for traditional, extended-session workflow patterns that are associated with tasks such as software development, data entry, accounting, and research (Bailey, 2006). However, portable computing devices are used for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons that organizations deploy portable computing devices include the following (Pearrow, 2003):
• Decreased need for training; simpler handheld systems are typically easier to use and learn than desktop PC systems
• Rugged; PDAs can be equipped with rugged, industrial strength housing for less money than traditional PCs or laptops
• Inexpensive; PDAs are less of a liability if they are lost, damaged, or destroyed
• Mobility; PDA use has grown in the areas of health care and law enforcement because wireless computing enables workers to make rounds in the field and still gain access to info via wireless networking PDAs are finding their way into more and more locations where PCs would simply be infeasible due to their size (Buchanan, et al. 2004). For example, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City, Chief Joseph Pfleffer, the battalion chief who was in charge of the fire department's planning and strategy at the World Trade Center site, made the decision to use PDA devices that were equipped with global positioning system (GPS) functionality to help determine the exact location of pieces of evidence at the WTC site (Abascal & Civit, 2007).
* Park rangers are using PDAs to report safety hazards in public parks and to arrange for their fast repair
* Clearly, portable computing has gained a footing in mainstream use, and so has transcended its status as a toy for wealthy businesspeople (Bailey, 2006).
It is crucial for any usability expert to understand usage trends and habits of users because there is no other way to design usable systems. In this section, we briefly survey some aspects of mobile computing use to provide a framework for the reader to explore his or her own users' needs.
Common Wireless Sites
What sorts of mobile Web sites are people using? Not a lot of data existed at the time of writing about just what the most popular wireless Web sites were, but one anecdotal metric that can be used is to measure how many sites show up in popular search/categorization Web portals, and which categories seem to be the most popular. Here we list a snapshot in time of the most popular site types. The following numbers were taken from Web searches performed on March 23, 2003. The numbers in parentheses represent the total number of listings in each category. They have been listed here in descending order of total listings:
www.yahoo.com Regional * (559) Entertainment and Arts (208) Commerce (137) Society and Culture (120) Travel and Transportation (109) Sports and Outdoors (74) Communication (64) Portals (56) Science and Technology (55) Reference Tools (47) News (39) Finance (33) Health (24)…