On Tuesday, March 24, there was a big party in Manhattan to kick off the rollout of the latest innovation from 3COM’s Palm Pilot division and Reuters America, a division of the world’s largest news and financial data distribution company. The new product is the REUTERS MARKETCLIP, an exciting extension of the functionality of the Palm Pilot.

With this add-on device, your Palm Pilot (whatever the model) will gain some tremendous communication competence… wireless real time financial information in your pocket!!!

Key Features

  • real time quotes — you can query all the major U.S. exchanges by symbol. Or you can set up watch lists and then beam in for real time updates for all the stocks on your watch list.
  • option chains — you can retrieve the full option chain for any security and sort the list by put, call or expiration date.
  • charts — either intraday or 20 day historical charts are a quick download.
  • news headlines — all the Reuters business headlines by both stock and/or industry category.
  • market summaries — pages of real time market data. All the major indices, volume, movers, and many other statistics are available.
  • alerts — you can set alerts based on the criteria you select (price, volume, news, and/or market indicators). Your Pilot alerts you when your criteria are met.

How does it work?
Here’s the scoop. You call Reuters (1-800-435-0101, option 8) or visit their website http://www.reuters.com and either buy a complete unit or make arrangements to send them your Palm Pilot for 48 hours.

The Palm Pilot (personal, professional or III) is fitted into a platform that is about 1.5 times thicker than the Pilot itself and about 2.5 inches longer.

This component is the guts of the MarketClip. It also includes the cellular digital packet data transmission (CDPD) modem. CDPD covers about 75% of the U.S. and you can use the modem with a landline if you need to. In any major city, you’ll never use a landline.

What’s the Cost
Bleeding edge technology is rarely inexpensive. This is no exception. The price of set up is high enough to discourage mere gadget freaks (who will go wild over it). Probably only the serious investor or professional trader will pony up the substantial first year costs of nearly $2,500. This would be less if you already own your Palm Pilot, but not a lot less:

$115 per month to Reuters for the MarketClip access

about $12 per month for exchange fees (to entitle you to real time as opposed to delayed quotes)

$100 set up fee

$600-$900 for hardware, depending on whether you own a Palm Pilot and which model you buy.

Easy to use
This is one area where MarketClip delivers more than you would have hoped for. Set up is a snap (and there is plenty of help if you need it) and using it is totally painless and relatively fast. The modem speed is only 19.2 kbps, but since the traffic is all data, no graphics, this is more than enough to get you what you want in literally just a few seconds. Maybe this quick response time will deteriorate as CDPD gains wider use, but for now it’s the cat’s meow. Navigation and command instructions are totally intuitive. I’d be amazed if many refer to the manual once set up is complete.

It’s very very COOL
No question about it… the speed, the size, the COOLNESS of it will appeal to all of us… but will we use it? I don’t really know. For a desktop user who can afford it and who wants real time financial information, it is a lot smaller and lighter than a laptop… but no way will it fit in your pocket. I think the present Palm Pilot users will view this new device as more of a curiosity than a serious Palm Pilot application (Palm Pilot=simple+light+fits in your pocket, right?). But I do believe there is a whole new group of users who will sign up for the Reuters MarketClip. and incidentally become Palm Pilot users.

If the hardware was a memory chip upgrade that kept the form factor the same as today’s Palm Pilot, I think you Palm Pilot devotees would be drooling and committing felonies to get MarketClip on your Pilot… it really goes much much further than anything we’ve seen on Pilots yet.

Add on features
Reuters has promised three more features: full news story retrieval (now just headlines), News Search by category (an extension from stock symbol or industry), and wireless email (now you’re talking).

The most obvious (to me) feature that is NOT planned is to add functionality to enter brokerage orders with the modem (sort of like getting on the train with a pack of cigarettes and no matches if you can’t buy that hot stock you just researched, isn’t it?).

It will be interesting to see if they sort this out or if some enterprising brokerage firm doesn’t come up with a solution for them.

This is really WOW technology… the first iteration, but really useful right now! It’s big compared to a Palm Pilot, but you don’t need a briefcase for it as was the case with the first wireless telephones… this is definitely useable in the present state.

Will it improve? I bet it will… and quickly. (Glue a Motorola Star-Tac to the back of it ). It will get smaller, lighter, faster and less expensive… the possibilities of wireless data (of all types, not just financial) in you pocket will drive more and more people and businesses to the world of electronic commerce, and instant information. The Reuters MarketClip is a noteworthy advancement of that proposition… try to get your hands on one for just a few minutes and you will feel different about the portability of data. Congratulations to Reuters and Palm Pilot for this nifty marriage of expertise and technology.

I’ve been able to play with an evaluation unit (had to return it already), but I think I’ll get one when the email feature goes live. In the meantime, I’d be happy to do a little research if any of you have any questions, email me and I’ll do my best to help you out.

I give the Reuters Marketclip three out of five Go Inside Review Lights!  It’s promising and innovative technology that isn’t quite ready for everyone yet due to the high startup costs — but if you have the bucks to buy into the technology — I can’t believe it won’t give you an edge in the marketplace.


    1. Hi Tom!

      I’m adding a few older articles to the new Blog — and even though I’m backdating the articles — WP.com is sending them out as new posts! That is new behavior and not something I knew was happening. I’m going to try to post the few remaining ones I have as private posts and then change them to public and see if that will stop the email updates.

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