|Re: An Updated Version of the 15c Would Make Money...?|
Message #26 Posted by Frank Wales on 18 Oct 2006, 8:26 p.m.,
in response to message #18 by Eric Smith
If there's anything out there for under $100 that's credible competition for a 15C, that's news to me.
Let me rephrase the question, then.
What features does a 15C have, that its current competitors don't have, and that people would pay for? And by competitors, don't just think 'calculators', think 'what people could use to solve the kinds of problems that a 15C could solve'; everything from Google and Excel to phoning a friend counts here.
I'm completely serious, and I'm not trying to do down 15C fans. I'm just trying to understand why some people seem to think there's a potential business in bringing it back, in some form.
Having gone through the exercise of trying to create a business plan a few years ago around RPN calculators, I just don't see it myself. When I vomit out a laundry list of barriers to making it happen, it's not because I'm some misery-guts, card-carrying member of the Anti-15C Party. It's just that I've thought about this kind of thing a lot over the last several years, and I'm buggered if I can see it being anything more than a hobby project at best, and three-alarm shirt-loser at worst.
I actually don't think even a smaller company than HP could bring back the 15C, because they would have the enormous additional burdens of creating and sustaining channels to market, since they wouldn't be able to insert their product into an existing sales programme for similar products. If you've never done this, it's easy to underestimate how hard it can be.
In particular, it's easy to imagine how successful your product will be once it's in Wal-Mart or John Lewis or Radio Shack, without realizing that it's practically impossible for a small company to get a new niche product onto the shelves of any major retailer. Selling online is probably the only way to start building a customer base these days, but that's no guarantee of success either, even if you get the likes of amazon.com to carry the product in return for most of your profit margin.
I'd be delighted to be proved wrong on all of this, because a part of me mourns the loss of HP product quality that got me into this business in the first place.
But I have to look forward, not back, and the future of portable computing is clearly in connected, tailored devices, not independent, user-programmable ones. Think smartphones and iPods.
A 15C-like calculator running on something like a Blackberry, and able to exchange data and programs online, is much more likely to be successful than any homage to a classic calculator whose time has passed. Cheaper to manufacture and distribute, as well. :-)
Edited: 18 Oct 2006, 8:38 p.m.