with David Lin, Sr. Product Manager for MiTAC Mio March 2004
The MiTAC Mio line of PDAs
and MS Smartphones have been a hit in Asia, but we in the US could
only look and drool. That is, until March 2004 when the Mio 168
Pocket PC running Windows Mobile 2003 hit the US market. Not only
is it a strong Pocket PC, but it's the first one to have an integrated
GPS. The Mio 168 was released in mid-March, and interest and demand
have been very strong. This is only the beginning: in the future
we'll be seeing another Mio device in the US.
David Lin is Senior Product Manager for MiTAC Mio products.
He's provided us with some great insights into Mio's vision and
the genesis of the Mio 168.
us about MiTAC and Mio as companies. We've heard that Mio will
be a separate company which will provide branded as opposed
to OEM products.
David Lin: Yes,
that's correct. Because this market segment is very important
to us, we've decided to spin-off a dedicated company to focus
on branded, consumer electronics products in North America
called Mio Technology. This will be the first time we sell
our product here under the MiTAC/ Mio name.
MiTAC is one of the largest PC manufacturers in
the world. We have been building PCs, workstations, servers,
and other related products for many Tier One computer companies
for over 20 years. In fact, MiTAC builds 15% of the world's Pocket
PC devices. Chances are you've used a computer, laptop, or PDA
built by MiTAC, you just didn't know it!
We're excited about launching Mio Technology here
in the US. In many ways, it's like operating a start-up, but
we have the benefit of leveraging the infrastructure and resources
of MiTAC International. Although Mio Tech is considered a separate
entity, both companies will continue to work closely together
to provide the best possible customer experience. Mio Tech will
be responsible for sales, product marketing, and service and
support, while MiTAC will continue the R&D and manufacturing
PDA fans looked longingly at MiTAC's Pocket PC and MS Smartphone
offerings, which were available only on the Asian market. Why
did you decide to enter the US market, and why was the Mio
168 selected as the first device offered here?
David Lin: It
always seems like the cool products come out in Asia first!
I'm happy to say we're finally bringing some of that technology
over here. We felt the timing was right to enter the US market,
as more people are becoming familiar with GPS and the benefits
of satellite navigation. At the same time, there hasn't been
any real innovative hardware development on the Pocket PC side,
so introducing the Mio 168 as our primary product made perfect
GPS is really a killer app for PDAs in general,
and the Mio eliminates the need to install and configure a
CF or Bluetooth solution. The navigation software is pre-installed
and everything works right away when you first turn it on.
And from a price standpoint, consumers get the benefit. Instead
of buying a Pocket PC, then purchasing an add-on GPS device,
you can opt for the Mio at a significant savings. We even included
all the accessories you need for your car!
The Mio 168 with integrated GPS
has been the only company to offer an integrated PDA/GPS solution and
their focus has been on the GPS side of the market. Tell us about your
company's vision for marketing and supporting this device.
David Lin: Garmin
makes some great GPS devices and they've done well crossing over into
the PDA market. I think it's fair to say, however, that they have developed
a GPS with PDA functionality. Our design philosophy was to look at
the current PDA feature set and take it to the next level. It's a subtle
difference, but the way Mio Tech is positioning the 168 is that it's
a Pocket PC first, and GPS is simply one of the added features—it's
the Ultimate Pocket PC! You can still run all your favorite applications,
games, and play your media files. GPS should be a seamless tool and
our goal is to achieve a level of user experience where using the GPS
is as easy as looking up your Contacts or checking your Calendar.
I think mobile professionals will find the compact form
factor and the integration with Microsoft applications (such as Outlook)
a definite advantage. We've designed the Mio 168 for the boardroom, not
us about the GPS software evaluation process. How long did it take,
how many candidates did you consider? What was it about the Destinator
and NAVTECH products that were so attractive?
David Lin: Well,
great products utilize great components. That's why we partnered with
some of the industry leaders in this product category such as NAVTECH,
PowerLOC, SiRF Technologies, Intel, and Microsoft.
NAVTECH has some of the most comprehensive map data available
today. We wanted to work with them because of their reputation for accuracy,
detailed coverage, and their extensive POI database. They have a huge
staff of field researchers just driving around verifying and updating
road data. It's quite amazing actually; they update everything from roads
and addresses to turn restrictions and one-way streets.
We needed a robust, flexible software solution for the
Mio 168, and Destinator was at the top of the list. The integration of
the Destinator platform with the Windows Mobile OS and our GPS chipset
proved to be a great combination in our initial testing. The turn-by-turn
voice navigation is the best on the market. We will also be launching
the Mio 168 in Europe , and Destinator has very good maps for that region.
We are continuing to work closely with PowerLOC to enhance the features
of Mio Map.
designed the Mio 168, and how long did it take to design and create
David Lin: The
Mio 168 is 100% designed and manufactured in-house by MiTAC. Our development
cycle is usually quite fast, as we have an extensive, dedicated staff
that is responsible for all aspects of engineering, production, marketing,
we see more Mio PDA and/or MS Smartphone devices released in the US?
David Lin: Yes,
definitely! The Mio 558 will also be introduced in the US soon. The
558 is the first Pocket PC with dual slots (CF and SD/ MMC), WiFi,
Bluetooth, and a mini-USB port. We've been getting a lot of requests
for our Smartphone series, including the 8380 and the recently released
(in Asia ) 8390. We are still evaluating the market demand here and
based on feedback we will make an assessment on the best way to release
these products. As you know, partnering with a carrier requires a lot
of planning. Still, there are also some cool mobile products on the
horizon that we will be releasing here that I can't talk about yet,
but please stay tuned!