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I want to thank the JDJ readers for all of the letters and e-mails I have received regarding the Hard Side column over the last year. Some open responses and opinions:

To Charlie B: You sent the first e-mail that I have ever received from 30,000 feet in the air. My guess is that you figured out how to use the dataport connection on those airplane phones. Considering the last time I got hit for $5 on a 30-second phone call from an airplane, you are in for a shock when your credit card bill arrives. Think what revenues would be if it was easy and cheap to send e-mails from 30,000 feet instead of hard and expensive. If the current vendors don't make it cheap and easy, then someone else will. Cheap bandwidth will not be a problem in the new digital world.

My "PDAs and Porkbellies" column garnished some e-mail from frustrated engineers, unable to convince their product managers that the business model for future PDAs is different from today's PCs. My advice: Forget about marketing; go to your next Executive Staff meeting with a Windows CE handheld PC and a Sony PlayStation. Ask your executives where the company's future products fit in these products and business models. If they scream and throw office supplies at you, good, they know they have a problem. If they mumble to themselves about their impending lunch date, run, don't walk, to your PC and update your resume. Your company will be roadkill soon.

Thanks for the comments on the second JavaOne conference. To answer the question from John regarding JavaOS: With the fast JITs coming and the rumors of an impending JVM on Windows CE, where does JavaOS fit? Squarely on the picoJAVA chip. If JavaOS is blindingly fast and has the tool support that is needed for imbedded designs, it may have a future on general purpose processors. JavaOS in a pacemaker or a machine tool? True real-time systems are not something that Java can handle for a while. JavaOS in a PDA? It would be JavaSoft vs. Microsoft. Want to bet on that one? It will be a battle.

And finally, Microsoft and the purchase of WebTV. Around me, everyone was shocked at the amount of money that Microsoft threw at WebTV, a technology that I personally believe in, but one that has not exactly set any sales records. I saw an opportunity for innovative programmers to use Java in a WebTV-type device, making the Internet easier for novice users.

I do not believe the purchase had anything to do with the specific implementation of TV Web browsing by WebTV. Microsoft saw a hole in their world domination strategy and plugged it by buying into WebTV. This accomplished two things. First, it got the boys in Redmond into living rooms instantly. Second, it locked out any future start-ups from coming in to compete with WebTV, even if these startup technologies are better/cheaper/faster. Who is going to put up venture money to compete with Microsoft? $425 million well spent.

I am going to take some time off from this column, due to other commitments. I continue to look forward to your comments, observations and flames. Please e-mail me.

About The Author
Randy Cook currently manages Business Development for Vsis, a start up focused on high-value silicon solutions for Java, PDAs and 3D. Vsis is funded by Mitsubishi. Randy has worked in development, product marketing and sales management of computer, digital video and interactive TV products. He holds a BSEET from Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo. Randy is married and spends his non-marketing life raising two sons, and tweaking stereo equipment.


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