2000: We all know that the Newton, once Apple got all the kinks out, was a fantastic platform. And we all know that Palm, despite it’s numerous former Apple developers, doesn’t have such great Mac support. And we know that the Palm OS allows for competitive models from other manufacturers – the Handspring Visor is living proof of that.
You can’t wait for Apple and Palm’s new PDA, can you?
Dream on! It ain’t gonna happen. Phil Schiller said so himself at WWDC 2000. But Apple doesn’t ever comment about future products, even when there aren’t necessarily plans to make them, right? Why was Phil so upfront?
Simple. The Apple-Palm PDA rumor hurt Palm and Handspring sales. Notice I said rumor, but it wasn’t even a rumor at all! According to David Pogue, in his February 2000 Desktop Critic column, the Apple palmtop started as an April Fool’s joke! But the big rumor sites like Mac OS Rumors and Go2Mac turned it into a forthcoming product, to boost visitors, and, thus, ad revenue.
The Apple PDA rumor hurt sales of other PDAs considerably, because most Mac-using prospective PDA buyers chose to wait for the Apple model rather than springing for a Palm or Handspring. Apple doesn’t want to hurt PDA sales, because then Palm and Handspring would be less enthusiastic about supporting the Mac.
Microsoft has a similar issue with its competing Pocket PC line, although Windows users account for the vast majority of Palm and Handspring sales, so the two companies surely wouldn’t want to drop Microsoft OS support.
No Apple PDA
Why isn’t Apple making a PDA?
First, many of Palm and Handspring’s models are fantastic products, and Apple would be competing with them and with Pocket PCs. Second, the Newton was a commercial flop. Although this was mainly attributed to Apple’s terrible marketing and releasing the MessagePad long before it was actually ready, Apple is still sour about the PDA (whose P in the acronym stood for “Pioneering”) and doesn’t want to make the same mistakes twice. Third, such a unit would completely disagree with Apple’s marketing strategies. Due to its size and component limitations, it would require its own OS, which does not fit Apple’s one-OS strategy. Also, it doesn’t fall into Apple’s four-box scheme, not even in the Beyond-the-Box zone. (See Beyond the Box? for more info.) It’s simply too much of a niche product to benefit Apple.
So if you want an Apple-branded PDA (and you have big pockets), go find yourself a used Newton MessagePad. They’re fantastic products.
If you want something smaller and more organizer-y, go buy a Palm organizer or a Handspring Visor.
If you still believe in rumors, by all means, wait until January for the forthcoming iPalm, with a semi-reflective and sub-pixel rendering LED screen with standard XGA resolution, Mac OS X Lite, the Transmeta-designed G4ex running at 900 MHz, a small nuclear fission cell that lasts for 10,000+ hours, and a backup BayGen Freeplay generator in case the fission cell melts down. All for the fantastic price of $69!
Kinda makes you feel ripped off paying that much for a USB hub, doesn’t it?