To read this content please select one of the options below:

Decision making in creating the world's first smartphone

Virginia Cha (Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Publication date: 1 October 2011

Issue publication date: 1 October 2011


Subject area

Entrepreneurship, Technology management and new product development.

Study level/applicability

This class is useable for an EMBA or MBA audience, especially for modules relating to entrepreneurship, technology management and new product development.

Case overview

Mr Khaw Kheng Joo was a pioneer in Singapore's high–technology manufacturing industry. In the mid–1990s, Khaw was given the difficult task of establishing a presence for Hewlett–Packard (HP) in the handheld Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) market. However, he believed that the PDA was not the game–changing technology for consumers. Using his knowledge of the Bell Curve and years of entrepreneurial experience, Khaw sought to combine PDA functionalities with the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) technology, effectively creating a new generation of mobile device fondly known today as the “smartphone”. The journey towards the finished product was met with several obstacles and barriers. Many colleagues were uncertain of the future market and had difficulty agreeing on which features to focus on. However, through his determination, expertise and decision making in uncertainty, Khaw guided his team to eventually launch the impressive HP Jornada 928, the world's first smartphone, and heralded a new generation of mobile devices.

Expected learning outcomes

This case is designed to be useable in teaching three key knowledge disciplines: Decision–making biases and heuristics in entrepreneurs and innovators. Technology diffusion of new technology. Managing market uncertainty.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes.



This teaching case was conceived and designed by Dr Virginia Cha. The content and structure was formed based on several interviews conducted with the executive champion of the HP Jornada 928 smartphone, Mr Khaw Kheng Joo. Two research interns from the University of Waterloo, Edelrose Agbayani and Gary Shih, contributed to the development and refinement of the teaching case. Unless otherwise indicated, all information were sourced from the following: Source: Joo, Khaw Kheng. Technology and World Change – A Random Walk with Khaw, 3 April 2008.


Cha, V. (2011), "Decision making in creating the world's first smartphone", , Vol. 1 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles