|Re: Where is HP Going in the Calculator Marketplace?|
Message #13 Posted by Howard Owen on 29 May 2007, 10:21 p.m.,
in response to message #12 by e.young
.. it sounds like you are describing a tricorder from Star Trek.
I get what you mean from one perspective. But the description could also apply to a laptop or small PC. That isn't what I'm talking about, but reread the descriptions with that in mind, and see if you don't agree.
I think the science fiction aspect of my proposal is not in the technology itself, but in the economic model. In order to establish an "ecosystem" for that sort of device, a very large company, or consortium of companies, would have to make very large long-term investments in technology they would be giving away to all comers. And despite the example of the PC, I don't think there's a directly analogous story in the history of computing that has succeeded. The story of the PC differs in at least two respects from what I have in mind, First, it was "given away" by IBM by accident, in the case of the hardware, and by reverse engineering on the part of Compaq in terms of firmware. Second and most important, the PC platform gained its success in the face of very little competition, at least in comparison with what a proposal like this would face today.
As far as the utility of calculators, I absolutely agree they are still useful. My point (and it's been made earlier, and better, by others in this forum and elsewhere) is that they are far less essential than they were in HP's calculator heyday. I do think that portable computing power in general has a great future. My proposal is aimed at preserving use cases like yours, where calculators continue to offer unique advantages. But I would give you the option of extending the utility of what you do. For example, you could take the results of your ad-hoc calculation at your lab bench or desk, and upload it to compatible software on the PC. that in turn could utilize local resources, or even the power of a computational grid, if necessary, to continue the work you started on the calc. It would work the other way too. Software on the PC could produce programs for the calc to allow it to participate, as appropriate, in a system design. Finally, you could do quite a bit of community grid stuff with these things. Yes, do imagine what a beowulf cluster of these would be like. 8)
Edited: 29 May 2007, 10:31 p.m.