Right this moment in Apple historical past: Apple reconsiders the Newton?


March 10: Today in Apple history: Apple reconsiders the Newton MessagePad? March 10, 2004: Apple sends out a survey to pick out Apple clients, claiming that it’s contemplating relaunching the Newton MessagePad.

“We have to decide why the Apple Newton was not a industrial success and whether or not there’s an curiosity in re-launching a brand new model of the Newton,” Apple’s survey says. “Your feedback will assist perceive why the Newton failed and if there’s curiosity in re-launching a brand new, improved Newton.”

In hindsight, it appears fairly clear that this obvious “curiosity” in launching one other private knowledge assistant was a approach of doing a little undercover market analysis for the still-in-development iPhone.

Newton MessagePad and the brand new factor

Apple launched the Newton MessagePad in 1993 with the objective of making one of many world’s first PDAs. Apple engineer Steve Sakoman, a passionate advocate of handheld computing, drove the challenge early on. Whereas at Hewlett-Packard within the Eighties, Sakoman developed the HP 110, the world’s first battery-powered transportable MS-DOS PC.

The MessagePad challenge occurred solely in the course of the decade-long interval whereas Steve Jobs was away from Cupertino after his boardroom coup try failed. Many seen the Newton as Apple CEO John Sculley’s reply to the Mac. It was his first try to launch a game-changing new product line throughout his tenure as CEO.

Newton flaws make it a joke

Sadly, the Newton know-how didn’t initially work in addition to hoped. The press piled on, printing quite a few jokes in regards to the Newton and portray the system as a failure.

Sarcastically, as soon as Apple really acquired the know-how proper with later units just like the MessagePad 2100 — which perfected the handwriting-recognition system the Newton included as a central function — Jobs had returned to Apple. He determined to cancel additional improvement of the PDA.

Apple formally ended the Newton experiment on February 27, 1998, with Jobs issuing a press release.

“This determination is in step with our technique to focus all our software program improvement assets on extending the Macintosh working system,” he stated. “To appreciate our bold plans we should focus all of our efforts in a single course.”

Apple’s stealth iPhone survey

Nevertheless, by the mid-2000s, Apple’s Mac enterprise was booming. The corporate efficiently moved into different areas as properly, such because the enormously in style (and worthwhile) iPod music participant. It solely made sense, subsequently, that Cupertino would take into account different cell units — with the Newton the apparent reference level.

Inside Apple, two simultaneous iPhone analysis tasks acquired underway: the so-called P1 and P2 tasks. Proper from the beginning, it turned clear that each would wish to supply PDA-style performance. However Apple wanted to work out precisely why the Newton MessagePad didn’t click on with clients.

It’s not identified how a lot consideration Apple paid to the suggestions from the client survey it despatched on this present day in 2004, simply three years previous to the unique iPhone launch. Nonetheless, as with the varied patents Apple filed through the years, it’s enjoyable to look again later and see how among the firm’s choices make excellent sense in hindsight.

Have been you a Newton MessagePad consumer? Depart your feedback beneath.


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