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Newton Again: iPhone vs the Mini-Laptop

iPhone Newton
Daniel Eran Dilger

Apple’s WiFi mobile platform, represented by the iPhone and iPod touch, appears to echo elements of the history of the company’s Newton MessagePad from a decade ago. This time, as a decade ago, Apple engineered a highly specialized device and integrated software while the company’s PC competitors lined up rival products that were largely gutless, impractical, instant eWaste units powered by software inappropriate for use in a mobile device. Here’s a historical comparison of the mid 90s Newton with today’s iPhone platform, leading up to what can be drawn about the future of Apple’s mobile WiFi platform compared to the Asus EEE PC and similar devices.

The Newton Failure.
Apple’s original Newton project was an ambitious undertaking directed by its late 80s CEO John Sculley, who had toyed with the idea of ubiquitous mobile devices related to the “Knowledge Navigator” concept. Worried that the new platform would eat into Macintosh sales, Apple decided to target it as a PC companion device that Sculley dubbed the “Personal Digital Assistant.”

Apple developed a custom Newton OS with a unique development environment uniquely suited for a mobile device, and even pioneered the development of the ARM architecture as a mobile-savvy microprocessor with Acorn and VLSI Technology. The project ran late; originally unveiled in January 1992, it wasn’t available for sale until nearly two years later, and components of its software were never fully finished.

Critics ridiculed its inability to flawlessly decipher handwritten text, and even after that feature was greatly enhanced in the Newton 2.0 software, the idea that it didn’t work well enough lingered on. The device also cost $700 to $1000, making it a luxury purchase particularly given that it didn’t do anything out of the box but look cool. It offered wide open potential to developers, but its tools weren’t completed and the limited sales of Newton devices meant there was a limited market for selling Newton software.

Newton Lessons for Apple's New Platform

Newton Lessons for Apple’s New Platform
Origins: Why the iPhone is ARM, and isn’t Symbian

In And Out of Apple.
After years of increasingly disappointing sales compounded by mounting desperation at Apple, Steve Jobs returned with the acquisition of NeXT and put the Newton under a critical spotlight. In early 1997, Apple released a new Newton-based mini-laptop called the eMate along side a new more powerful Newton MessagePad. CEO Gil Amelio then spun Newton off into an independent company, called Newton, Inc., in July of 1997.

A week later, Amelio was ousted by Apple’s board of directors, and Jobs was named Apple’s interim CEO. On September 19, Jobs pulled Newton back into Apple. In a private email about the move, Jobs reportedly wrote, “The Emate has a bright future,” and “sales of the current MessagePad are brisk. [...] Don’t worry, we are pulling this group back into Apple so that we can invest even more sales and marketing resources into these products, rather than dumping the products into a small spin-off which lacks such resources.”

Newton vs Palm.
Apple then released the updated Newton MessagePad 2100 in the fall. However, by then the Newton was beginning to compete against the pocket sized, far cheaper, and more practical Palm Pilot. The Palm didn’t have the power to offer real handwritten recognition and only ran basic apps under a much simpler operating system, but its wide market penetration created an excitement among developers and the market that sent Palm’s market capitalization into the stratosphere.

Shortly after its March 2000 IPO, Palm, Inc. was valued at $54 billion compared to Apple at $20 billion, despite the fact that Palm had only earned $23 million on $435 million in revenues, less than a tenth of Apple’s $353 million in earnings on $4.2 billion in revenue. The market went nuts over Palm because it was shipping something new that people were buying in significant numbers. That enthusiasm subsequently crashed along with the gadget market when the tech bubble burst, but Palm devices continued to be popular and sold relatively well for several more years, eventually evolving into the first crop of Treo smartphones.

In February of 1998, Apple announced that its Newton line was being discontinued. Apple didn’t reenter the mobile market again until the iPod in 2001. That product benefited from some lessons taken from Palm; the iPod offered everything the Newton hadn’t: pocket sized portability, very targeted and practical functionality, and a more appealing price under $500. While the Newton could potentially do anything, the iPod only attempted to do one thing very well: music. As a “pod,” it was also designed to sync seamlessly like the Palm; the Newton never quite got its sync software finished.

The Egregious Incompetence of Palm

The Egregious Incompetence of Palm

Newton vs Handheld PC.

Bill Gates was also inspired by Sculley’s late 80s ideas of a Knowledge Navigator tablet, and created a series of product visions that subsequently failed, including the Tablet PC, the mini-laptop Handheld PC, and the PDA-sized Pocket PC. Many versions never escaped the drawing board, but those that did turned into reference designs intended to be built by Microsoft’s PC partners, following the pattern of desktop PCs sold with Microsoft’s Windows.

Microsoft introduced Windows CE as the software to power new mobile devices just as Apple canceled the Newton in 1998. Microsoft’s version, released half a decade after the first Newton, originally made no attempt to handle handwritten recognition, so critics had less to complain about. In fact, all the Handheld PCs really did well was run batteries dry. They combined expensive yet underpowered hardware with poorly engineered software, resulting in a product nobody bought. The original Handheld PC devices tried to cram the Windows 95 desktop into a tiny, low resolution screen, which simply didn’t work at all.

As Palm devices rose in popularity, Microsoft began copying it instead of the canceled Newton, but Microsoft never outsold Palm until the PDA market collapsed and Palm shifted its resources into selling smartphone devices. Microsoft then began repositioning WinCE as a smartphone platform, but made limited progress in that direction, too. It eventually convinced Palm to begin selling its WinCE software on Palm’s smartphone hardware, a move that did little apart from handing the dwindling market share of Palm’s dying software business over to Microsoft.

The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile

The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile
OS X vs. WinCE: How iPhone Differs from Windows Mobile
Innovation: Apple at Macworld vs Microsoft at CES
CES: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

The next article will look at how and why Apple’s iPhone launch was similar to that of the Newton, but far more successful. It will also look at how the mini-laptops being offered by PC makers compare in vying for attention in the $400 mobile device market.

Mobile EEE PC, UMPC, and Internet Tablets vs the iPhone

I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the Forum or email me with your ideas.

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1 John Muir { 05.19.08 at 8:52 am }

The most interesting thing about this story is that the idea of a handheld information appliance in the abstract is so evidently appealing. Mediocre tech minds like Sculley and Gates were captivated. However – and this is the crucial point – concepts are nothing without implementation. And the Newton, PDA’s and pre-iPhone smartphones all share a common history of being poor final product.

The fact that the iPhone / touch platform is descended directly from Mac OS X and NextStep is what makes it so promising for developers and users alike. But it is also the stellar *design* of the iPhone – with a super keen eye for minimalism over bloat – which takes it to the next level: the touch platform is compelling.

2 Splashman { 05.19.08 at 11:50 am }

Daniel: Nice article, thanks.

There’s a typo in the first sentence:
“… appears to echo elements the history…”

I’m guessing you either meant to include the word “of” after “elements,” or meant to zap “elements” altogether.

3 ericdano { 05.19.08 at 12:59 pm }

Best product Palm ever created was the Palm V. It’s sleek metal case and functionality……..I still have mine somewhere.

4 benlewis { 05.19.08 at 4:03 pm }

agreed, ericdano. It was a useful device built at palm’s zenith. would it be wrong to think the iPhone I’m typing this on shares some exterior design elements with the Palm V?

5 ericdano { 05.19.08 at 4:56 pm }

Not at all. I think Palm really got it right with the Palm V and Vx. The form was perfect. The charge life was perfect. The functionality was perfect.

Once Palm decided to ditch their Graffiti writing system and started putting little keypads on their products is when they Jumped The Shark. That is when they lost their focus.

There is no good reason why Palm could not have done a Phone that did away with the keypad and was mostly touch screen. They had the OS that could do it, they had the time. They had the experience. But every Treo has had a keyboard. In fact, my Treo I had, it’s keyboard get messed up, and I bravely went in and reset the rubber contacts on it. (Not for the faint of heart).

The difference between Apple and Palm is that Apple seldom loses focus, at least not since Steve Jobs has been strictly in charge and has been dictating the product lines and life cycles.

6 PhilipWing { 05.19.08 at 5:18 pm }

The company I work with (which I’ll leave unnamed, since they’re claim they’re go after me for public comments) uses Palms for internal applications. The company doesn’t supply them – we buy them ourselves. Last year, the MIS department (they call themselves something else, but from their behavior, I perceive them as MIS) announced they were converting to Windows CE, to many boos from the audience. They still haven’t delivered this downgrade yet, although they’ve now given themselves until the end of June to deliver, just in time for iPhone 2.0.

I wonder if and when they’d wise up and make versions for iPhones. We have the resources (like myself) to do it, just not in their department. My upline has an iPhone and I conceive that many others have them.

7 danieleran { 05.19.08 at 8:58 pm }

Yes I was a happy Palm V user. Interestingly, Palm copied Apple’s custom designed PDA strategy (it was an original Newton developer; it sold Graffiti for it), but at a lower price point.

Palm was not a PC company. The PC companies that tried to follow Microsoft into the handheld/mobile category all failed miserably. They even failed after trying to copy Palm’s business, largely because the PDA made no sense as soon as the smartphone arrived.

PC companies also failed in aping the iPod by following Microsoft’s lead with PlaysForSure. That’s the pattern I’m pointing out here. Anyone can copy Apple, but the PC makers rarely have, instead choosing to follow Microsoft into new depths of failure with PC devices that suffer most from their poor software (Microsoft’s fault) and weak integration (the fault of splitting the devices’ engineering into two directions: HP/Dell/Whoever on the hardware side, and Microsoft on the software side). That strategy has repeatedly failed. With the Zune, Microsoft demonstrated that it is not the only way that company can fail; it can also fail by copying Apple.

However, copying Apple (or copying Sony’s PlayStation in gaming consoles) has at least resulted in less of a failure (relatively speaking) than trying to clone the PC market on a smaller scale for PDAs, mini laptops, etc.

8 josh { 05.19.08 at 9:40 pm }


Once Palm decided to ditch their Graffiti writing system and started putting little keypads on their products is when they Jumped The Shark. That is when they lost their focus.

There is no good reason why Palm could not have done a Phone that did away with the keypad and was mostly touch screen.

well, the original treo 180g was pretty close to what you’ve described. the graffiti writing system was the primary interface along with a numeric keypad. i way prefer graffiti to the crap keyboard on my later treos. ive owned several 180′s, 270′s, a 650 and am currently using a centro. the treo build quality is simply abysmal. the centro is the first treo i’ve owned that is reasonably well built. i stick with palm smartphones for their isync abilities with my mac and for the fantastic datebk software available from pimlico that only runs on palm. i’ll probably switch to the iphone when calendar software matures some more.

9 ericdano { 05.19.08 at 9:49 pm }

Josh: “i stick with palm smartphones for their isync abilities with my mac and for the fantastic datebk software available from pimlico that only runs on palm. i’ll probably switch to the iphone when calendar software matures some more.”

It is funny you say that because the exact reason I switched from a Palm device to the iPhone was the inability of iSync (and MissingSync) to correctly sync up my Calendars and Contacts. It was a running nightmare.

10 harrywolf { 05.19.08 at 10:41 pm }

@ John Muir: I agree.

Its the fantasy appeal of the tiny gadget that has us in its grip!

The iPhone seems to be cautious in its avoidance of being a Palm or a Newton, as if the curse of the magical Star Trek device that never exists properly in reality scares Apple.
So it should, if history has a lesson.

The ‘failure’ of the Newt will be avoided because today there is:

(a) a 2.5/3g network and lots of public wifi
(b) absurdly cheap components and huge memory chips
(c) absurdly small components and huge memory chips
(d) beautiful colour multi-touch screen tech.
(e) OSX
(f) Apple’s superb design team.

..and its a phone, with all the inherent usefulness that a phone always has.

I dream of Apple designing a car, or a car manufacturer seeing the brilliant design lessons of the iPhone and applying them to automobiles.

I believe we suffer from shockingly bad vehicle design in our world, the way we did until last June with phones…..

11 Realtosh { 05.20.08 at 12:27 am }

The Newton was ahead of its’ time. It got stuck with a reputation for poor handwriting recognition because of the first version of that software. In future revisions, Apple’s handwriting recognition was the best such recognition software for years. In fact, that code base became the foundation of Inkwell, software recognition software that was built into OS X.

“Apple’s Newton Operating System 2.0 won Byte Magazine’s Best of Comdex-Fall ’95 award in the operating system category.” Imagine in the same year that Windows95 came out, there was much critical acclaim for Newton and the Newton OS.

I had been disappointed that the Newton had been discontinued, because the technology was cutting edge. I never owned a Newton, but ended up buying several Palm over many years. At the time, I was convinced that the Newton would have been successful if the there had been a Newton with a form factor closer to the Palm Pilot. At the time I saw an opening that was later filled by the Palm V, which others have lovingly remembered above. Had a slim Newton been introduced prior to the Palm V with the great Newton software, Apple might have stolen Palm’s thunder back then. Instead, Palm just squandered their precious market lead. Apple is just stepping into a vacuum that Palm has left behind. Windows has been unable to take a market leading position that Palm has lost. Blackberry was making an effort to take the lead in North America and Nokia was taking a stab at a leadership role in the world outside of North America.

I am convinced that Apple will assimilate this smart phone market, which is the modern day descendent of the PDA of yesteryear, over the next 3-5 years.

Between the iPhone and other touch devices, Apple will dominate the smart phone market. Then, in a strategy similar to the branching in the iPod product line, Apple will take over the most lucrative parts of the cell phone, portable computing device marketplace.

Dan, you’ve trash-talked the Newton quite a bit, and you’ve overlooked much of the positive of the Newton. Had Jobs not cancelled the Newton, Apple might have found a way to make it successful. In fact the eMate was making great inroads into the educational market. I’m not a Newton apologist. I’ve never owned one.

It was in Apple’s DNA to lead the PDA market. They are taking over the smart phone/ portable computing device market. Even without the Newton, Apple is taking the leadership role in the industry that was invented at Apple. Apple invented the portable computing device, as they had earlier invented the personal computer.

It is fitting that Apple is showing great leadership in both categories.

12 ericdano { 05.20.08 at 12:33 am }

Where is the proof that Apple’s eMate was making inroads? If it had, Apple would NOT have discontinued it. Did you ever see or use one? It was a Dog……an expensive Dog.

13 Mobile EEE PC, UMPC, and Internet Tablets vs the iPhone — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 05.20.08 at 2:33 am }

[...] ← Newton Again: iPhone vs the Mini-Laptop [...]

14 John Muir { 05.20.08 at 6:48 am }

@ Realtosh

As far as I’m aware, the Newton’s OS would have needed the same kind of comprehensive rewrite that still awaited the Classic Mac OS at the time. In other words: the original Newton was a dead end.

It took Apple longer than anticipated to finish Mac OS X. They concentrated everything they had on that project, which only really bore ripe fruit with Tiger in 2005: notably the same time the Mac’s sales really took off and *before* the Intel machines debuted.

The iPhone / touch platform *is* their next gen Newton; redesigned, engineered and imagined for a market far bigger than the original addressed. It took until now for many reasons, not least of them the software at the very heart of the machine.

That’s why the touch platform is in another league when it comes to longterm potential. It is based on solid foundations. There’s no looming rewrite coming up for its whole inner core, unlike the classic Mac OS, the Newton or indeed Windows…

Oh, and Symbian too!

15 Realtosh { 05.20.08 at 9:10 am }

@ John

Yes, your point is correct, with a caveat.

Apple is in much better shape with all of their hardware categories sharing the same base OS with an adapted appropriate user interface for each type of device.

The Newton OS would have needed a rewrite to bring it to OS X. However the Newton OS was not compatible with OS X or with Classic. Bringing Newton OS to OS X would have required an entirely separate Rosetta type compatibility layer bridging Newton OS to Mac OS X.

Newton OS was one of the most advanced OS’s of its time. It was a complete ground up rewrite and was not necessarily based on the Classic Mac code which was brilliant but a bit aged and not quite up to the task of powering a small mobile device. Newton OS used many modern OS technologies that the Classsic Mac OS had not been built with.

It turns out that dropping the Newton was the right call. The problem for Apple was that they needed every last bit of engineering resources to transition mac to OSX. Having to also worry about a Newton transition would have been a needless distraction.

@ ericdano

Yes, emates were selling well. Combined with the promising sales figures of the eMate and the excellent technologies in Newton, many were surprised by the drop of the Newton product. The surprise was so great that many pundits blamed it on Jobs himself; saying that he killed of the project because it was the pet project of Sculley of had gotten him thrown out of his own company that he started.

In reality though, the transition to OS X was such an undertaking that it wouuld take all of Apple’s energy. The call to kill the Newton division was likely due to the desperate need for the engineers, combined with the problems inherit in successfully launching a new platform, that you would have to kill and transition to OS X eventually.

It seems to me a wise move strategically from a company perspective. Put your resources where you’ll get the best return from your efforts. Getting OS X up and running with the Classic compatibility layer became critically important. This was especially important when many large legacy third party developers, like Microsoft and Adobe insisted on a compatibility layer, and were balking at rewriting their large applications with large installed bases and lots of code much of it custom tweaks and even machine language subroutines.

And although this problem came later than the Newton termination, the folks at Apple could probably guess that backwards compatibility was going to be an issue. The folks at Apple at first were not planning so much backwards compatibility with Classic. They figured that most apps would be rewritten in the new superior tools. They are still dragging Adobe and Microsoft kicking and screaming and trying to get them off carbon and onto Cocoa, even today.

The smartest thing Apple did was provide the compatibility layer. In fact it was so good that the Classic layer lived on for many yeard with OS X. The Classic apps worked side by side with OS X apps. The experience they received in the transition to OS X and the earlier migration to PowerPC from the old Motorola chips served Apple quite well. Their recent recent transition to Intel was executed flawlessly nad ahead of schedule.

The reality is that Apple now has a modern OS at the core of all of their products. They have a great design team on both the software and hardware sides, and can adapt their core OS X into whatever device or solution that is needed for whatever product they feel the market will adopt.

Not only do I see the strong probability that Apple will dominate the mobile Internet device category with devices that will be built on the touch platform that they are now deploying; but also the core OS X is so powerful and versatile that they will many options for growing into new markets. In a couple of years when Apple is dominating mp3, moblie Internet, cell phone, laptop and making strong inroads into the personal computer market, they will feel a need to innovate other markets. They will find themselves keeping many plates in the air, but surprisingly with a bit of extra time on their hands.
I can see Apple then growing into the embedded markets. Over time, we will lose the treasured experience of walking up to an ATM or kiosk and seeing a Windows error screen. These solutions are mostly self contained, and become a great entry point for OS X into many businesses. Plus, OS X can access the internet and large industrial databases just as good as any other platform out there. For example a large nation or internation bank could easily migrate all the thousands of ATMs to OS X without having to worry about what the desktops in their offices are running. Each ATM is an island into itself. As long as it can communicate with the bank’s secure central servers without difficulties, it can have OS X at its’ core. ATMs can be transitioned to the new platform one a t a time over the period of a year or two.

This is just a crazy example, but a very real possibility. OS X is a great core and can be adapted for this or almost anything. iMacs or the Mac mini or a new form factor that Apple can develop could be the core that many VARs could build into robust solutions for myriad industries.

The OS X tools are easier and more powerful than much else out there. Developers are not running to support Vista , yet. There is an opening for either Linux or OS X to not only steal the embedded but also the PC market. The PC desktop market is a bit harder because of the training issues and legacy support. But as many apps and solutions are moving to the Internet, even the desktop market is in play. But as I’ve said above, the embedded market is available for takeover today.

Apple is wisely putting their energies into the iPhone and its’ offspring and whatever portable Internet devices that are working on currently. That is the segment that will give Apple that biggest payback most quickly. My point is that all their work in OS X, media players, cell phone and portable devices and touch will transition to a blossoming market in the kiosk/ATM market with little extra work on Apple part.

Losinf the Newton, which was great, allowed Apple to concentrate on OS X. Doing so has opened up so many possibilities.

16 John Muir { 05.20.08 at 10:05 am }

@ Realtosh

I think you underestimate Apple’s desire to keep focussed. Focus is what they’re all about at the top, and down to the bottom. Gruber put it well in his recent anti-Adobe merger article:

As for the home desktop: I think laptops are well underway in their takeover. Apple are leading that assault with a truly massive share of high end laptops, as well as a solid showing with the new iMacs:

The MacBook Air leads the Macs sold at Apple’s webstore, another sign that they have their finger on the pulse of a whole lot of consumers.

A Windows gaming friend of mine recently got into an argument where he assured me that in ten years time desktops will still be more popular than laptops. I subsequently showed him statistics proving that isn’t even the case TODAY! It’s easy for some to forget that what feels like their own mainstream is in fact a vanishing niche.

Consoles are doing to Windows gaming the same thing laptops and increasingly the iPhone are doing to the household Internet Explorer email+surfing box of yore. Just look at the chart:

17 Realtosh { 05.21.08 at 12:52 am }

@ John

I don’t underestimate Apple’s desire to stay focused. For the next year or two, they have their hands full. But in time Apple’s current growth vectors will run their course. Then Apple will go looking for growth areas, if they aren’t looking for new growth already. Because Apple tries to stay focused, did I look at possible growth vectors that ovrlap with current technologies and products. By building upon existing
technologies, Apple can amortize their investments in research and development into new areas of growth. Apple has been quite efficient in their use of engineering talent, in spite of having creating so many products; the vast majority extremely successful commercially.

Apple will continue to look for growth. Apple is doing so well in education & consumers, that eventually they will have such a large portion of these markets that they will get to a point of diminishing returns.

Apple could then cut their prices as some have suggested to try to reach out to every last person. However, before undertaking such an extreme tactic, Apple can find better profits by looking for opportunities for growth outside of their current growth markets instead. Getting into price war chasing the market to the bottom would not necessarily be the best strategy for profitability. Deploying technologies that have already been developed, into growth vectors adjacent to Apple’s current core markets would be the wisest place to grow.

18 Minicapt { 05.22.08 at 4:16 am }

1. Graffiti was from Paragraph and was written for the early Newton. I tried it on my MP100 with little pleasure. On the otherhand, it was the major feature on the Palm when it came out. Fortunately the Newton had been cancelled earlier.
2. The Newton may appear pricey now but it’s only competition was the laptop melange, few of whom were usefully priced under $3000 at the team. There were putative competitors (similar to smartphones less the phones) but, for all its perceived faults, the Newton ran rings around them.
3. The Palm was shirt-pocket-sized; the Newton jacket-pocket-sized: both were design choices.
4. The problem for the Newton user was that lights were dimmed for presentations.


19 InvestmentBiker { 05.29.08 at 11:34 pm }

I owned a MP120 and an MP2000 and I had frequent occasion to use an MP2100. There was clearly significant progress made from generation to generation. I think that the Newton had a few problems, specifically that it was marketed as a computer alternative rather than a companion; it had problems with the early sync software and reliability; it required that ridiculous dongle to connect it to a desktop; and its biggest problem was that most peoples’ handwriting is appallingly bad and the blame was on the Newton for not being able to read bad writing. Personally, I have very legible handwriting and I found the Newton recognition to be brilliant. Remember also, that the Newton learned the user’s handwriting as the device was used. The decision to cut the program from further development was necessary as Apple at the time was hopelessly stressed for resources, including capital. As has been mentioned above, the company had to focus on where it could make the biggest impact. I think, at its peak, there were only 220,000 Newtons sold. It is my recollection that around the time Newton was killed, Intel had purchased ARM (which made the Newton’s processor) and, I think that was around the time of the $150 million convertible debenture that Microsoft bought, mostly as a payoff to get Apple to drop the many lawsuits pending against MSFT for patent infringement. As well, MSFT was motivated to keep Apple alive because of the anti-trust case that was in full swing. It’s a complex history but there it is. Don’t forget that Jobs saw the Newton as Sculley’s baby and, as we can all remember, those two didn’t exactly get along that well when John and the board gave Steve the boot.

All that being said, I loved my Newtons. They were a fabulous device that still is unmatched, feature for feature, today. It had, at least for me, great handwriting recognition, a very long battery life, a backlit screen, infrared printing (I was blown away the first time I used this), great apps (remember SilverWare?), wireless data or faxing, and the capability to be used as a telephone (crudely, but it worked). It was way ahead of its time. I hope Apple comes up with a new device that is as far ahead of its time as the Newton was back then.

PS: notice that the iPod uses one of the Newton fonts. Also, weren’t those Easter Eggs cool? (Where’s Elvis?)

20 Newton 2 - Yeah I could go for that. at 2 Fat Dads { 11.08.08 at 4:15 pm }

[...] Daniel Eran DilgerApple’s WiFi mobile platform, represented by the iPhone and iPod touch, appears to echo elements the history of the company’s Newton MessagePad from a decade ago. This time, as a decade ago, Apple engineered a highly specialized device and integrated software while the company’s PC competitors lined up rival products that were largely gutless, impractical, instant eWaste units powered by software inappropriate for use in a mobile device. Here’s a historical comparison of the mid 90s Newton with today’s iPhone platform, leading up to what can be drawn about the future of Apple’s mobile WiFi platform compared to the Asus EEE PC and similar devices. [...]

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