Cleaning out my Big Drawer of Geeky T-Shirts (the new one that came out of my recent Google visit just refused to fit), I ran across my original Newton Developers’ Conference t-shirt. I’m pretty sure there was only the one conference, and yes, I was there. As the shirt says:
A smart step for Newton.
A giant leap in technology.
And a long time ago.
I think that if Apple pulls off the iPhone/iPod Touch third-party apps the way they might (and I know that’s an “if”, not a given), they’ll do what they tried to do 15 years ago with the Newton – make a PDA that’s really mainstream. And, no,
I don’t think that exists right now. I see a lot of people with some kind of mobile device, but as far as I can tell, they’re primarily checking email, messages and websites. The majority of mobile users aren’t using most of the features, capacity and power of their devices.
What’s different? Quite a bit, including how much better technology is now than 15 years ago, and that the market’s in a very different state. Michael Mace wrote, several weeks ago: that
An elegant business model paired with mediocre technology beats an elegant technology paired with a mediocre business model.
and I think that the difference between the way Newton and iPhone hit the streets is a great illustration of that.
Apple’s learned a lot. I say: good for them. Many companies don’t. Here’s one opinion of the mistakes Apple made with Newton, and the critical difference between what they did then and what they do now.
Now if they could only make the iPhone commercials as good as the old Newton ones (those are 3 separate links) were.