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Company specializes in PDA parts, repair.

It started out as a hobby, as well as a desire to help inform people about the inner workings of PDAs. Now, Robby Stanley is founder and president of a successful online business dedicated to assisting PDA users. His business, Morgan Hill-based GetHighTech Inc., has, for the past three years, been offering PDA users instructions, along with photos, on how fix their handheld devices–as well as the option to send in their PDAs for repair. And in March, free videos were made available on GetHighTech’s Web site that allow users to see, in real time, how to make simple repairs to their PDAs.

The core of GetHighTech is service to the PDA user. Though the company mainly focuses on Palm OS units, it is expanding into providing services for other brands of PDAs, such as Compaq’s iPAQ and HP’s Jornada. Users who stop by the Web site can follow the step by step directions–and now videos–in order to repair common problems on their PDAs, including screen removal, digitizer repair, and memory removal/installation.

The site also offers free e-mail support, which usually responds to queries within one business day. Those who lack time, expertise, or confidence in their abilities to repair their PDAs, users can send in their devices, and have the problem assessed by technicians for a fee of $20. If the user wants the problem fixed, he pays additional parts fees and GetHighTech takes care of the rest.

Stanley estimates that his Web site saves the average user around $50 or $60, compared to what he would spend if he approached a manufacturer to fix the problem. His business also provides services for users who can no longer get help from a device’s OEM. He points out that the manufacturer’s warranty becomes void if, for example, the screen is cracked. “We’re basically handling the people who wouldn’t go to them (the manufacturers) anyway: the out-of-warrant people,” says Stanley.

The most common problem that draws people to his Web site are broken screens. If the screen is not obviously cracked, however, Stanley advises that the real problem may be with a loose ribbon. “There is a simple ribbon that goes from the display to the motherboard, and the connector at that motherboard sometimes comes loose and the ribbon pulls out slightly,” says Stanley.

Manufacturers currently have little to say about Stanley’s work. “They know who we are, they don’t acknowledge what we do,” he says. Considering the PDA market and the slow economy, Stanley muses, “I think they are just trying to survive themselves. They just kind of let us do our thing.”

With an average of 2,000 orders or services a month–a number that has doubled since last year–business is growing for GetHighTech. Stanley estimates that there will be up to three million hits on the Web site this year. Looking at the trends, it suggests to him that businesses and individuals are more focused on getting the most out of their old PDAs, as opposed to purchasing new ones. “People aren’t running out to buy the latest and greatest, they are trying to get more life out of their older units,” Stanley says.

For the future, Stanley sees GetHighTech following the major trends. The business is “in a position that we are small (and) we can change as the market changes.”

However, one thing about his business will stay the same, says Stanley. “We’re trying to help other users out.”

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