A lot of desktop computing enthusiasts were excited about Dell’s sleek new Studio One 19 touchscreen PC that launched this week, but probably none so much as Robbie Cape.
Cape left Microsoft to found Cozi, a Seattle startup that developed a desktop application and Web services aimed at homemakers. Cozi includes a calendar, shopping list and photo gallery — basically digitizing the sort of kitchen message center people create with bulletin boards and refrigerator magnets.
One impetus for Cozi was the expectation that people would increasingly have computers in kitchens and other family areas, including touchscreen systems that take only a few taps on the screen to get information.
So Cozi has spent years talking to computer makers, including Dell, about the concept and getting its software bundled onto their machines. Since January it’s been on Dell consumer PCs sold through retailers such as Best Buy, and now it’s preloaded onto the Studio One 19.
“Our original vision for the company was all about these machines that were going to pop up around the home, so we started talking to the hardware manufacturers when touch was three years out on their roadmap,” Cape said.
Now the Studio One 19 is the state of the art of touchscreen, kitchen PCs.
“I love it,” Cape said, noting that it appears to float over the counter because of the way its monitor support is designed.
The new Dell starts at $699 without a touchscreen or $869 with touch. Unlike the Windows XP-based Asus Eee Top that I reviewed a few weeks ago, the Dell is a full Vista machine with Nvidia graphics and a DVD drive. It’s an all-in-one system, with the components stuffed behind an 18.5-inch-diagonal screen.
For the system, Cozi developed a sidebar application in addition to full desktop that users can choose to run.
Cozi now has about 1.4 million registered users and signs up a few thousand a day. Cape’s even more enthusiastic about the site’s advertising performance — the average CPM last year was $17.50.
With the company getting to scale and a growing list of features to add, Cape’s starting to think about seeking more funding for the company. Maybe he’ll find a venture capitalist who has been using one of the new Dells.