For years, we were the only ones.
Sure there were other calculators made by shareware developers or guys in their living rooms who tried to compete. But no one came close. After all, we had an advantage. Teri Graf, my long-time VP of Sales, and I went out and completed bundling deals with everyone selling anything related to the Palm OS (back when that was the only game in town). We bundled stripped down powerOne calculators with Palm, Sony, Garmin, Franklin-Covey, SUPRA Products (now GE Security) and other company’s hardware devices. And if we couldn’t own the relationship, we bought out the guy who wrote the software, as in the case of Rick Huebner’s Parens, bundled with Handspring devices. (An extremely accomplished developer, Rick’s still with me a decade later.)
We didn’t earn much from the bundling, mind you. In fact, most of those 15 million+ units were free give-aways. (My friend and co-worker Dick Luebke called us the greatest charity in Oregon for the millions of dollars of free software we gave away.) But we earned a small company’s income from those residual sales to higher functioning calculators and those sales, coupled with Angel funding, gave us the freedom to try to topple the kingpins of math education, TI, Casio and HP.
That didn’t work out. Our plans were dashed by Palm’s shifting focus. And when we came back to mobile, the landscape was different. In essence, we needed to start over.
So we spent a lot of time thinking. What makes powerOne unique? Why do our customers keep telling us they can’t live without it? Why could our products demand and get 3 to 6 times per copy what other calculators were getting? Was it the breadth of calculation? Was it the template form factor, so nice on a mobile screen? Was it the all-encompassing nature of the app?
But it wasn’t until we spent a year in the hyper-competitive world of iPhone that it became clear. It’s the ability to create.
In the desktop world we have spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are amazing products for letting people with little or no programming skill write an application. It was intended for computation, a next-generation calculator. But it became way more than that. It’s an application for writing your pro forma financials. It’s an application for creating an expense report. It’s an application for tracking your calories. You name it and the spreadsheet was used to create an app for that.
In the mobile world that didn’t exist. There was no good way to satisfy the insatiable need for personal or business-oriented apps except to shoe-horn an existing app for your need, squeeze a spreadsheet into that tiny screen, or hire a developer to write one for you.
Except with powerOne.
Now this used to be simple stuff. Modeled after HP Solve, you could enter a formula and it’d turn it into a little, simple application for capturing and analyzing data. But even we never gave our customers the full power of creating templates as sophisticated as ours. And we never really gave our customers the ability to do things with that data.
And that was the realization. Welcome to the new powerOne. With our iPhone version leading the way, we now give our customers the ability to write sophisticated, mobile data capture and analysis applications and to share those results via email. And if you aren’t into writing? No problem. We have created hundreds for you to just download and use.
Now there’s an app for that.