On the demise of a medium comment

       Written when Newton's fate had just been decided.


There are rumors of the demise of Newton, with the replacement of cut down MacOs devices (Allegro Lite) in an Emate form factor.

This is understood to be an effort to rationalize Apple's OS strategy which is entirely laudable. If I understand the current buzz surrounding Rhapsody correctly, it will even go so far as to allow current MacOs applications to run under emulation not just in some funny colored box, but directly in the Rhapsody "Finder". This is definitively a different thought altogether from Microsoft's Windows 3.1, NT, 95, 98 and CE OS landscape of incompatibility and confusion.

But wait, what's the medium's message here? Shrink a PC and it's still a PC?

I don't think so. Just as you are hardly likely to create a rich MultiMedia presentation on your mobile phone, even if it is a Java enabled Nokia with a color screen, you're not likely to use a PowerBook to go through your newsgroups on the underground on the way to work. Taking notes with some keyboard bound device in meetings probably doesn't come very high on your list of likely things to do either.

Apple has understood this. Apple has acted on this. Apple created the Newton.

Sure Newton wasn't designed to be a fully fledged citizen of the digital universe. It was designed as a totally new device; a PDA

It was not to be a "computer", hence Capps' reticence to integrate it with the Macintosh, which also lot designed not to be a mere 'computer', but which quickly learnt integrate with other more traditional digital creatures.

But as it integrated, it still stayed unique, capitalizing on its uniqueness.

Thriving in fact, where it capitalized on its uniqueness, which was also its strengths: Ease of use and WYSIWYG being amongst its strongest features, through which it single handedly created Desktop Publishing.

What the world needs is not a MacOS CE type device, but a Newton, with all its pen based elegance, which actually integrates with old PCs. Give me a Newton with a Connection Kit which works, which lets me easily converts my Newton documents to Word or Excel and vice versa. Give use a Newton whose email is synchronism with my desktop machine.

Give me the freedom to be digital without always having to be tied to a keyboard and the PC conventions, but don't assume I want to be an island.


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