Bring back 90's Style PDAs: Palm Pilot, Handspring

Bring back 90's Style PDAs: Palm Pilot, Handspring

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Why this petition matters

Started by Adrianna Vasquez

     I started this petition because I was looking for a new phone, one that could take notes with a stylus. I saw the Galaxy Note has an amazing interface, but then I stumbled upon now defunct Palm Pilots and Handsprings.

    I understand that the smartphone industry killed demand for those devices, but now as this generation is growing increasingly aware of the many distractions smartphones pose, in addition to the increase of popularity and demand for 90's inspired tech, I think 2022 is the best time to reinvent retro PDA devices without straying from their pre smartphone inspired design. I think Palm and HP's decision to design a smartphone like device might not have best direction to gain traction or popularity. However current trends have made the best climate possible for a successful relaunch of a modified original design. Retro/90s aesthetics and cyberpunk as well as tech with visible hardware and options for user customization are gaining aesthetic popularity. A growing number of those of the generation raised on apps and smartphones have grown tired of the over saturated market of smartphone touch screen interface. Yes we use and love our smartphones, but there is a desire for alternative single or limited use devices that are more simplistic in nature, and ultimately serve as more of a resource than a distraction. 

    The marketing tactic of like a smartphone but with less options predictably has not seen much success. We don't want to purchase something that is designed as a smartphone with less options or capabilities, we want to purchase something cool and exciting that fulfills a specific need. A device that must stand apart from a smartphone as it would be extremely difficult to make popular a less capable smartphone over say a now in style revitalized PDA. The possession of a minimalist smartphone may insinuate that the user is incapable of navigating a standard smartphone. Worse it could be compared to a baby not quite smartphone protective parents might buy their kids. On the other hand, possessing a new model of a Handspring or Palm device that stands alone in design, software architecture, and user interface insinuates that perhaps the device offers a new user experience outside of the realm of smartphones.

    The court is divided as yes it is true that smartphones do fulfill note taking and organizational needs, however arguments can be made as to whether they meet those needs as well as possible. Many smartphone users are easily distracted by a user interface that offers nearly limitless possibilities and options. Smartphones are inarguably being utilized as an extension of self and the endless possibilities as well as the device being wide open to communication and notifications can add an aspect of stress or anxiety that for a number of individuals hinders their capacity to focus on organization or even the task at hand. Even if the newest smartphone like Palm could act as a better digital organization device, it's similarity to a smartphone is why I believe it fell short as the device should have been built and advertised as one differentiated enough from competitors that could fill the market need of a sturdy/simplistic digital note taking organizational device. Placing the device in a smartphone category I believe was erroneous as it failed to improve upon, highlight, or give credit to the area where it's predecessors excelled in. Note taking, data entry, and organization especially with the paired stylus were the strengths of earlier devices that could withstand the smartphone era; not it being a handheld device that could do all things.

    It made sense for the Palm/Handspring to fall in popularity as smartphones emerged because smartphones were marketed as the ultimate organizational tool. However, in 2022 while we can certainly say smartphones are more than capable of any organizational need, I believe that there is enough self awareness in especially younger smartphone users easily prone to distraction or anxieties surrounding an almost compulsive pull to social media as soon as a smartphone is turned on, to seriously consider a PDA as a beneficial organizational resource, and ultimately a more secure extension of self in regards to it existing as an isolated device to notate and optimally organize information from anywhere including acting as a clutter free companion for any smart device. It might have been more difficult a number of years ago to successfully release a device with the same 90's design, but I am making this petition now because I believe the current consumer climate of demand for retro design and functional tech devices other than smartphones has laid the perfect groundwork for a Palm Pilot/Handspring comeback. 

    A handheld designated note taking/agenda device that rocks a look that is now considered futuristic and fashionable even if old is definitely something that I see being in demand. Media, video games, Kanye's Stem Player launch, as well as clothing that integrates tech hints at a desire for handheld fashion forward technology other than smartphones. While the software inside of a smartphone may be more advanced than any reimagined Palm Pilot or Handspring, possessing a smartphone has become so commonplace that tech introduced to the market that differs from a smartphone model even if drawing from or even being from the 80s or 90s, now appears futuristic and novel in comparison.

    From a functional perspective I understand there may not be too many reasons to justify the necessity of a stand alone device in the era of smartphones, but that doesn't mean one shouldn't exist. Smartphone or smartphone inspired devices monopolizing the market did at one point threaten the viability of any device that could offer the same features, but now the demand for alternatives is increasing as the novelty or capabilities of even the most advanced smartphones have lost their initial novelty. The argument for alternative devices can be strengthened further as user experience provides indication that just because a device can provide a feature, doesn't mean the feature will be utilized or implemented successfully in every case. Like I stated previously, a smartphone can provide note taking or organizational apps; however paired with every other not totally positive aspect of smartphone navigation, focusing on solely organization may not be as seamless or the optimal use of such a device considering the inarguably unbalanced ratio of a constant influx of new data to ease of utilizing apps that would help organize or streamline existing data and present tasks. While a number of smartphone users no doubt successfully utilize their device for note taking, agenda keeping, and organization, this doesn't mean there doesn't exist a portion of users who are unable to do so, or only do so due to the lack of another viable option. When the features of smartphones first hit the market it made sense to abandon alternative technology due to the assumption that this advancement was the best choice for every need. Now as users have had ample time to judge for themselves whether or not this is the case, I believe that a large enough number of smartphone users would agree that their devices while extremely advanced and capable may be lacking when it comes to the ease and simplicity of digital note taking or organization.

    This is why consumers should be provided with at least the option of a viable handheld alternative that isn't modeled after a smartphone and doesn't necessarily have to utilize the same touchscreen software or massive OLED screen. The great thing about our market is that a number of different products offer variations of the same features but we as consumers have the option to choose. This is why my argument for bringing back the Palm/Handspring with the original design isn't rooted entirely in necessity for a product with such features, but rather my belief that if the device hit the market now, consumers would at least have the option of choice. I think it would be an option welcomed by those overwhelmed by their smartphones without having to resort to buying a device that seems like a lesser smartphone, those who wish to possess a practical PDA, or those buying for the aesthetic design or nostalgia aspect.  Additionally, a smartphone purchase to a consumer isn't one that often occurs annually due to a steep price point; so the option of buying a novel additional device that specializes in one specific area could prove appealing as consumers have already demonstrated a desire for additional tech products for ease of functionality, having the money to spend, or as a fashion statement. Combined with again increasing popularity for retro technological alternatives and 90s style coming back in full force, paired with an aesthetic marketing campaign and the option of a host of cute accessories to pair with it, I could see a revitalization of a beloved 90s PDA being extremely successful so long as the campaign does not aim to replace a smartphone, but rather provide a new trendy tech companion. Palm/Handstand products specifically have an upper hand as their devices once cornered the market.

    The latest Palm launch didn't appeal to consumers enough or highlight the device's still unique design, but if the latest direction is one that capitalizes on the above mentioned gaps in the market at again this opportune time for the old design, press alone from a retro inspired PDA from Palm much like the original but better I believe would most definitely prompt sales as Ebay listings for old Pilots and Handsprings can go for $100 and have multiple buyers watching not old collectibles that no longer function, but rather functional models. 

    So this petition is a call to HP to reinvent their past successful model as the current market should provide more tech options for digital note taking and organizational devices that are portable while ditching the smartphone design. Success with the original design wouldn't necessarily be reliant on nostalgia as I wasn't even alive in the 90's but myself and a number of my friends and colleagues are all onboard for a supped up Handspring. I say Handspring because the Handspring Visor in translucent was the one device that stood out to us out of all of the older models. The translucent shell that makes the tech components visible looks incredibly futuristic and fashionable especially now. Myself, friends, and colleagues have all searched for standalone digital note taking devices to replace our agendas and notepads but such devices like the Remarkable2 and Rocketbook are appealing but lack portability.  Plus, for those who spend a lot of time outdoors, camping, ect... smartphones aren't all that viable.

    A note taking device that is battery operated already possess some advantages over smartphones. Right now especially we are seeing sustainability, reconnecting with the outdoors, and unplugging as an undeniable trend. A growing number of consumers are making purchases based on durability and ability to function without the need to be near an outlet. Hence another reason why notepads and agendas have not lost their practicality and the stationary industry especially as it caters to students and professionals has not lost it's momentum. In fact, a lot of geologists usually have to purchase specific weather proof note paper and pens as paper isn't too durable and digital note taking devices are often too power intensive to be practical. Plus the older PDA design boasts a feature that cannot be discounted; more shatterproof than many glass screen smartphones. It is frustrating that I always need to always buy a waterproof/fall proof case for my smartphone. If any other added features were to be considered for an unlike a smartphone updated retro PDA design, I would say the ability to capture photos and input them in notes. The feature of a photo option may not work with the older design, but it would serve as an additional feature paper stationary lacks. Such capabilities in a device that doesn't require an outlet and could potentially be outfitted to be even more durable would make an incredible digital note taking resource that could serve as either a practical designated field note must have, or a digital scrapbook that feels more tangible and less like a liability. Many smartphones are susceptible to glitches and malfunctions that make preserving data and security a very real fear as my smartphone has erased all my notes and photos more than once. We also shouldn't discount the practical size and ability to clip onto a pair of jeans. I would love to whip out this PDA without feeling any anxiety paired with any texts or emails my phone might display with its ease of access, size, and traditional pen feel of a stylus. With the PDA right there without any added distraction, I could easily jot down some information I learned about how to make a dish and add it to my recipe folder. A device like this could serve as an incredible tool to streamline focus as when someone takes out their phone to jot something down, often times they're swept into social media.

    For many individuals with a number of thoughts about a myriad of different things, organizing them either on paper or digitally can serve as an extremely beneficial tool. Whenever I take notes on my phone I find it difficult to sustain as I previously mentioned, my phone isn't completely an extension of myself or solely an organization tool; rather it exists as a gateway to even more information that I cannot always regulate in a manner that is the most beneficial. Whenever I take notes on paper it doesn't hold the same appeal as a digital resource, it feels a bit stone age; plus I need to keep the paper out of harms way and pens/pencils run out. Recreating and re marketing this PDA as a practical option for a designated digital organizer could be next level. There should exist options for compartmentalizing via folders to reduce brain clutter, ect...I'm tired of apps where it should be as easy as marking whether I took daily vitamins or exercised always being paired with ads, a paid subscription, or more distracting features. This PDA should possess flexibility when it comes to note taking options such as existing templates for bullet lists, hourly agendas, or a calendar. An option to modify the screen interface or fonts could also be great. My friends and I really liked the design of the Handspring Visor in translucent blue. The retro/sci fi shape of the design plus the visibility of hardware components is both visually appealing and satisfies current design trends.

    I believe that if HP released a Handspring in a design similar to the Visor with updated software and these aspects, it would be extremely commercially viable. Perhaps not as an option for everyone, but as an option that could most definitely be appealing to many. 

  • increased storage capacity
  • increased stylus touch sensitivity 
  • an option for solar charging 
  • waterproof options 
  • casing options that could withstand a minor fall
  • LCD color display with options to take notes in different colors
  • An address/phone book to input contacts as added security just in case smartphone contact info is lost
  • cases with avant garde/retro designs that can double as wallets
  • stylus keychain attachments  
  • translucent or glitter translucent shells

 For now I will look on EBay to buy a model but I hope anyone interested in seeing a new Palm Pilot or Handspring hit the market gives this petition a sign because honestly it would be incredibly cool to have the option to purchase an updated PDA.


9 have signed. Let’s get to 10!