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RIP-OFF: Pocketop charges for the Drivers for its Wireless Keyboard
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 29.01.04 - 10:49:12 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 6511x
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I've seen this news on several sites before but now I found the official news about it on Pocketop's site. It's an open letter to Pocketop's customers:

To our valued customers

We apologize for any delays in processing your requests for drivers.

Because of the very rapid pace of development in the hand-held market, including portable keyboards, we have been obliged to change our policy on issuing drivers.

Unlike Windows devices where typically only three or four drivers are sufficient to service every pc on the market, there is a huge and growing variety of hand-held devices. We have now developed in excess of 100 drivers that enable our keyboard to be used with hundreds of different PDA/Pocket PC/and cellphone devices. This trend is escalating with the need to provide drivers for devices using the Symbian operating system. The cost to develop drivers is very high.

Until now, we have supplied drivers free, which means that whenever an owner of a Pocketop keyboard has upgraded to a new hand-held device, he or she has been able to continue to use the keyboard without incurring further expense. It has also come to our attention that users of portable keyboards purchased from our competitors download and use our free drivers because of their enhanced functionality and compatibility.

For these reasons, we have introduced a registration and payment policy for drivers. Purchasers of our keyboards must register with us and pay US$10 to $20 for each driver. We believe this is a modest price compared with our costs, and will help us get new drivers out in a timely fashion to meet your needs and the increased number of new devices entering the market.

This is a decision into the wrong direction and it's unbelievable for me. Pocketop calls a driver price of US$ 10 - 20 a "modest price", however from my point it's exorbitant! Drivers are part of all hardware developments and therefore it's clear that drivers and its development costs also money but it have to be part of the package you already paid for.
I recently reviewed the Pocketop wireless keyboard and also it received the PPCW.Net Editors Choice award but after I've seen all the further developments I can not recommend buying the Pocketop wireless keyboard anymore!
There are several other workarounds to make a business model workable like including/supporting one platform only. Either Windows CE devices or Symbian devices or Palm only but if you want to get a driver for a different platform you have to pay a one time fee for this platform but getting old drivers delivered with recently bought keyboard just to find out you have to pay another 10 or 20 bucks for the current driver isn't tolerable at all.

Pocketop - this wasn't a smart move at all and the customers will vote if they accept it or not.

Cheers ~ Arne

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Posted by Jacob Saaby Nielsen on 29.01.04 - 11:09:49

Why don't they just register their customers that buy hardware, and give them the drivers for free, even when they change device, and let everyone else pay ?

They could do sort of what Nokia does, let the user register each device. And then let them download drivers for those devices only.

Their current decision is SO wrong.

Posted by Filip Norrgård on 29.01.04 - 12:48:15

I agree with Arne and Jacob; there are better ways than charging for downloading drivers. Sure, charge from them who do not own a Pockettop keyboard and wish to get the drivers, but not those who've bought one! sad

Posted by Arne Hess on 29.01.04 - 15:12:09

This is simply outrageous.

I too have been so happy with my two... yes you can read that... 2 pocketop keyboards.

Now with this policy... it is so easy to jump ship and go for one which I feel gives better service to its users...

The Pocketop keyboards are not cheap... And at the price they are selling them, they should be dedicated to issue drivers for free.

This opne will definitely score a big negative on their part... and the way i see it... this may as well be a suicidal act on their part.


Posted by Dale Reeck on 29.01.04 - 17:47:25

Driver development is part of the cost of doing business. Developing drivers for new PDA's that come out (and therefore, selling keyboards for those new PDA's) should be more than enough incentive to develop and pay for driver development. ThunderHawk from Bitstream is a good example. They also could charge for each new version as it adds new PocketPC support. But they know that if they add support for a new PocketPC, people who own that PocketPC will buy their product. But if they have to pay an additional fee on top of the normal selling fee of the software just for drivers, people are going to tell them to bugger off.

Its getting disturbing how badly even basic support is starting to fall. Companies charge more and more for products, yet cut support more and more. Everything has a fee now. Pretty soon, we are going to have to pay for a company's employees to go to their bathroom break.

Note to companies: support is NOT optional.

Posted by Travis Spencer-Coye on 29.01.04 - 20:51:57

You took the words right out of my mouth Dale.  The funniest part is, if they actually had been up to date with their driver support and more importantly CUSTOMER support it wouldn't come as such a shock (I'm willing to pay for something if I can find the value in it).  As a recent and first-time buyer of a pocketop, I think the design and concept is brilliant but, having paid a heafty price in the heathrow airport on the 23 of Dec and 5 e-mails and 2 posts/querys later with ABSOLUTELY NO RESPONSE, I continue to use my trusty Spb full-screen keyboard with my xda and xda II (to write this comment in fact) while my colleague borrows MY pocketop for use with his Ipaq 3700.  In short, I will be looking elsewhere for an XDA or XDA II compatible keyboard and leaving the pocketop for those with much deeper pockets than mine.

Posted by farnold on 29.01.04 - 23:07:59

If their development department is forced to write hundrets of different drivers... than I think they need some smater people smile What a crap is it that you are not capable of write more universal code?

My only conclusion is that someone thought about a smart way to make more money - must have been a controller or so - while actually not having the slightest clue that the result will just be that they don't sell keyboards anymore in the first place... very dumn...

Posted by jayson on 30.01.04 - 01:11:58

Time will tell... if everybody has the same reaction as we do, then we'll see this company going bankrupt.  But if they even make more money because of this scheme, then there are turely a lot of fools (who don't know better) in this world.

Posted by Arne Hess on 30.01.04 - 18:29:19

Companies such as those that developed other keyboards , wireless or not, have been very successful and popular and have maintained service in the offering of updated drivers as a priority... a good example is Targus/ThinkOutside.

It is ssad to see that Pocketop feels that they ahve to "create" hundreds of drivers when other companies are capable of developing just a few that works across the range of devices (of the same platform).

Other companies have been able to supply keyboards with drivers for free... and they have done well. This I hope is not the start of hardware manufacturers to start putting a price on things which are supposed to be inclusive of their packaged price.

Other equally as reliable keyboards are available and most at a better price. I feel that Pocketop has made a big mistake here and may as well have taken a very perilous path which may spell its doom.

If I remember it right, they were so proud to call it a univerasl keyboard and suggests that simply downloading the appropriate drivers are enough.

$10 is not a modest price for a driver as other more critical applications are actually priced at this range...

Their upgrade policy is also not clear... how many times are they going to upgrade the drivers for a particular device? 3 times? 5 times in one year? and are we supposed to pay $10 everytime?

All isn't clear right now. But I do hope they sort this out as I'd hate to see Pocketop which used to have promising visions go down in ashes...



Posted by Norbert Aquende on 01.02.04 - 09:53:28

Wait a minute! I bought their driver for my iPAQ 3870 WM 2003 which in their site says that its the latest driver(they didnt give any details on driver version and date). When i installed it on my iPAQ it says that it is version 1.6r08 which i feel that i downloaded for free before they started charging for their driver. Did i mistakenly buy something that I already have? They didint provide information on the date and version of their driver. Was I ripped off by Pockettop?

Posted by ibentaken on 18.02.04 - 04:31:27

I was billed 91 dollars ($79 plus $12 shipping) from pocketop and have heard nothing since the orignal order confirmation on 17 Oct 2003.    I really wanted the product but now I only want my money back.  If Pocketop or the Moderator cares, my order number is 103597.   I would rather look for one of their keyboards used on eBay than deal with these people again.

Posted by Chris Norman on 19.02.04 - 10:33:32

I own an O2 XDA II and am/was on the verge of getting a Pocketop keyboard. Am I right in thinking they do not supply a driver for the XDA II; surely all devices which run Windows Mobile 2003 can use the same driver? Surely the driver is specific to the PERIPHERAL not the MAIN device??

Posted by Arne Hess on 25.04.04 - 09:29:37

The lack of information on their website about new drivers is actually a bad sign...

Up to now, the only information they have on their page is nothing more than a driver version which is v1.6.

If they've been charging since January, I would expect newer drivers to be released... and it seems they are charging for drivers which have been developed as long as a year ago...

Having to ask payment for service is another sign that this company isn't going to let anything pass without getting paid.  As much as I wouldn't want to think of it this way, it still feels like these guys are just out there to milk the PDA using public instead of really offering support.

Now I guess they can come up with insufficient manuals and information and ask for about $10 per 15 minutes of service...

"As of November 2003, Pocketop Computer Corporation will be managed by Cyberhand Technologies Inc. The Cyberhand management group now manages Pocketop in conjunction with developing their ergonomic products. Patrick Burke is the new CEO of Pocketop Computer Corporation and President Cyberhand Technologies Inc. " I believe the Pocketop product line can be expanded. In the next year we will concentrate on building our driver base, improving our customer service and bringing Pocketop to profitability. This does means that we will have to charge for many services, but I believe our customers investment will amount to 4 to 5 cents a day over a year and provide them a superior product."

I guess this explains everything...

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo

Posted by Charles on 11.08.04 - 05:47:34

[3] I fully agreed with you. My Pocketop keyboard has been using for almost 2 years. I am looking for a new one. With their new policy, I will put Pocketop at the bottom of my list.

Posted by Karl on 30.10.04 - 13:16:03

This is the death knell for pocketop

Posted by Greg on 01.02.05 - 01:36:58

I think Cyberhand, previously with an Ontario address has become, in fact, one unresponsive person.  I would advise you to avoid making any purchase.  I'm still waiting for a status on my order placed 1/11/2005.
>  Merchant Name:   Cyberhand Technologies
>  Address:         2875 point grey road   
>  City:            Vancouver
>  Province:        BC
>  Postal Code:     V6K 1A7
>  Country:         CA
>  Phone Number:    604-737-1015

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