A thought-provoking New York Times article examines the evidence that Apple may secretly be working on a PDA/Phone device. It cites some cryptic statements by Steve Jobs about how PDAs are going to be replaced by phones, and some not-so-cryptic ones about the sorry state of the handheld offerings today. The article’s main evidence, though, is the interesting proliferation of features in Max OS X.2 that have more immediately applicable benefit in a handheld, like handwriting recognition and the “internet distilled” functionality of Sherlock (also seen in the shareware app Watson). Apple already has a license to use the iPod software in a second device.
Apple’s Chief in the Risky Land of the Handhelds
Submitted by claudio 2002-08-19 Wireless 22 Comments
Is Apple going to enter the market using a proprietry system, or an existing one, such as PalmOS or Symbian?
My guess is Symbian.
Does Steve have a PDA, most options would be odd, Like a Palm Pilot (they left apple), or Newton (he killed the newton, didn’t he), or anything running any OS other than MACOS would sorta against him.
Couldn’t read the NYTimes article, I don’t feel like freely signing up (I’m not a NYTimes fan, I rather read the Washingtonpost), nor I like circunventing that requirement (with an ID generator). If a site which content should convince me to browse it, asks me instead to sign up, I go away and don’t come back.
I wouldn’t buy iPod out of an Apple environment, I see it as another gadget for its niche platform. By the way, it looks like my three years old Diamond-Rio MP3 player. The same applies to this maybe-could-be/topsecret faster than light Apple phone, it’s no threat out of the Apple world.
Jobs is as always, vaportalking about the long ago obvious things. Out of the topsecret vaporware and PR, for a risky handhelded phone, the Hiptop is going to be the coolest, once it has a color screen.
However I don’t think the future belongs to handhelded phones like the hiptop, but to handhelds with wireless phone capabilities, the only difference between both being the concept limitations of those phones. The Hiptop is an extremely interesting design, that IMHO would naturally evolve to being less phone-like designed and more towards a handheld computer (with somekind of hands-free kit).
The Hiptop runs its own operating system, I regard this as an old concept flaw; if you sell the hardware, open/license the software that runs on top. Think about something similar running an embedded Linux, RedHat?…
I’d like to see the iPod as a PDA. I’m serious. It’s already more than halfway there. You can view your calendar and contacts. It’s got a 20gb hard drive on the top end model. FireWire is a high-speed serial device so how much could it take to make an adapter for a USB or PS/2 (or Bluetooth?) keyboard to connect to the iPod so you can add/edit/delete contacts/calendar items on it? I don’t think much. No it doesn’t have all the apps yet. But the iPod is still young…
They suggest Apple will just license someone elses device and rebrand it. It’d cost a hell of a lot less in development time and money.
If they tried to develop an iPhone they’d be starting years behind much more experienced companies.
Frankly It’d be difficult for any company to come up with something close to the P800.
Hehe, well it looks like Steve may finally be getting over his personal feelings regarding his ousting from Apple all those years ago. I would love to get my hands on an Apple PDA (Who wouldn’t?), but when I look at the prices for the iPod’s I am a little worried about how expensive it would be…
I think they should go for it
Those smart phones are not really selling. By Mr. Nagel of Palm’s account smart phones are on target to sell 1 to 2 million units in 2002. That seems a bit low but smart phone shipments are still nothing to write home about.
Apple is moving to increase its ability to integrate with other devices such as phones and PDAs. My guess is that apple may want Os X to be usuable in more than just desktops somewhere down the line. Internet appliances, notepad type of computers, etc. The former did little for be, inc. but its time will come as display prices and GHz of processing power continue to fall.
Still, i don’t know if i’d hold my breath on a smartphone. They are not selling and the services are not doing much either. Mass market acceptance of smart phones, outside of japan, is probably years away. In the interim, we’ll probably see a major meltdown amongst Europe’s mobile carriers. Silly Europeans, they still think the the market economy can be controlled by a few centralized decision makers at nokia and ericsson.Not so…
It would make great sense to me that Apple would tie third generation wireless access to a box which could do the usual voice communications, web surfing and e-mail, but also play QuickTime movies as easily as a portable DVD player without the bulk.
I remember Jobs making a remark that he thought that, eventually, PDA’s and cell phones would morph into one unit. He also admitted that Apple tried to buy Palm. Jobs wantsApple to be USA’s Sony, so it would not surprise me to see something along these lines. But, it’s a tough market to get into. Would he use the newton OS or Palm? What would be the liklihood of success in today’s market? It seems to me, althought i can see Apple doing it, it would hard to have a break-out product.
“If they tried to develop an iPhone they’d be starting years behind much more experienced companies”
Building a wireless phone is not what it used to be. Apple has a huge advantage over nokia, ericsson, motorola, in that apple really understands computing and smartphones introduce the element of computing to the phone world.
The phone/RF element, which used to be a huge barrier to entry, just is not there any more. Apple could easily contract out the design and integration of the wireless pieces of their device out to qualcomm, motorola semiconductor, ericsson, analog devices, TI, conexant, etc. You don’t need to know how to build a phone anymore. There are lots of companies that will be happy to take care of the RF pieces for you. Qualcomm does a particularly good job of this.
Still, cooperating with the phone makers offers apple a lot more than fighting with them over the tiny smartphone market.
“I remember Jobs making a remark that he thought that, eventually, PDA’s and cell phones would morph into one unit. He
also admitted that Apple tried to buy Palm. Jobs wantsApple to be
USA’s Sony, ”
Isn’t everyone predicting the merger of PDAs, phones and cameras? Why
carry 3 display screens and 3 fuel cells when one will do?
I think Sony would like to be USA’s Sony, too.
I see it as very unlikely that Apple will introduce combination PDA/phone. There are simply too many dependencies for a user to overcome before purchasing such a product. As a result the potential for such a product is simply too narrow. In order for a user to make a purchase commitment the user must:
Be Macintosh user
Be a Macintosh user using System 10
Have a PDA, and wish to switch, or buy a first PDA
Have a phone, and wish to switch, or buy a first phone
Have access to phone network that is compatible with the phone
Not be concerned with PC compatibility
This defines a very narrow group of people
I think it is more likely that Apple is working with phone manufactures to develop a set of communications standards to link phones to Macintoshes over bluetooth. Apple has already hinted at this in its Sony/Ericson compatibility announcement.
Essentially Apple wants the Macintosh to be an easy to use digital hub for phones. This would help sell computers. An Apple branded PDA/phone would not. Of course this is all just my opinion.
We may also see initiative to develop standards for linking Macintosh laptops to the internet via a bluetooth connection to a phone. Imagine your laptop asking you if you would like to access the internet via a cell system when it can’t find a WiFi connection.
As far as the PDA part is concerned, we may see a handheld device from Apple. I am guessing it will be larger than a PDA and run a full version of OS X from a hard drive.
I thought I saw some PDA/Phone thinggy on a Ruhmor site and thought is was Bull. maybe not
I’d like to see the iPod as a PDA. I’m serious. It’s already more than halfway there.
Having calendar and contacts support doesn’t make it easier to make it into a PDA. Firstly, could the iPod’s OS be able to support third party applications like Palm or Pocket PC? Secondly, could Apple have handwriting recogniction and a touch screen (this would be easy, but read on). Thirdly, on the enchancements need to make iPod an PDA, would the OS be able to run on such low amount of RAM? Would the hardware needed to support those features be around the same price range? And lastly, would the iPod keep it’s ease of use charm?
in that apple really understands computing and smartphones introduce the element of computing to the phone world.
Apple understands PCs/desktops – not mobile computing (PDAs, smartphones etc.). The people who want to buy a smartphone wouldn’t want to buy something that replaces his desktop.
I think that Steve has a real human being as a PA instead
of a box full of electronics 🙂
“Apple understands PCs/desktops – not mobile computing (PDAs, smartphones etc.). The people who want to buy a smartphone wouldn’t want to buy something that replaces his desktop”
you bring up one of the interesting dynamics that are now present. Apple does not necessarily have enormous experience in handhelds but they do in many areas of computing. Nokia and ericsson really know nothing about computing.
The endgame here is the same but different firms will approach it from very different starting points. Nokia is really an expert at personalization of consumer electronics and efficient production. Ericsson really excels at making radios. Only god knows what motorola is good at these days.
I’d argue that the feature of former phones was really radio/voice technology some personization/aesthetics. That radio just got relegated to the physical layer. Its not the main show anymore. the main show is now computing, GUIs, applications.
I think one of the reasons why the danger’s hiptop is so interesting is because it was developed by experts in computing,not so much wireless. I believe that as computing, in relative terms not replacement of pc terms, becomes a more significant feature of smart phones, computing companies will gain an advantage in that market.
My personal experience dealing with wireless and PC/data worlds is that the outlooks and perceptions are much different. I’d give the advantage to apple over Nokia for a small data-centric wirless handheld. Of course, everyone is free to disagree.
I love my Palm and I love my Newton and I think that Apple really does understand mobile users. Just check out the iBook and you’ll see that they really do understand mobility. Simple connections, well-featured FREE software (iPhoto and iMovie run circles around Movie Maker and Imaging). I use my PC more but after getting my iBook, I’m beginning to love my Mac.
I see two scenarios (since I don’t think the iPod software is powerful enough to function as a PDA without a significant overhaul):
1) Palm. Right now, most of PalmSource’s heads of state are old BeOS people (the group that Apple didn’t buy because they bought NeXT). Apparently, rumors say that Palm OS 6.0 will be more like Be than Palm. This is a great thing. Runs fast, full-featured and finally a more graphical interface for newer high-res palm screens. When (if) this happens, Apple may have already been working with Palm on a co-branded device. That device would be PC and Mac compatible, come with Palm’s reach and with Palm’s market cap being so low… Apple could buy Palm (before someone like Sony does).
2) Remember Linux. Since OS X already runs on a powerful version of UNIX, this might be a stable option as well. Scale down the OS to fit a PDA/iPod hybrid device or skin a version of QNX (PDA-sized linux) to fit into a 10 MB of space or flash rom. If those devices come with 20GB HD or more, you could use the Firewire port to transfer music, save video from a DV, plug it into a wall or use a built-in wireless Airport module to transfer that stuff over an 802.11b network. With many Asian firms building Linux devices, Apple could make these puppies cheaply with the guts of some other device and Apple’s design for the outside.
Why is it that you people will never learn from these past experiences?
Just because Sony makes PalmOS pda’s, doesn’t mean that they will buy the company. You people already went through Sony MUST buy Be Inc. because they use BeIA for the eVilla.
The New York Times article stated that Steve Jobs WAS interested in buying Palm in 1997. A lot of things happened in 5 years, especially in the computer industry. Apple is no longer interested in buying Palm. Apple created the iPod, but they didn’t develop the OS — they licensed it from Pixo (let’s start another rumour, Apple must buy Pixo).
The newspaper also stated that Palm’s work on mac-palm synching was done “apparently with little cooperation on Apple’s part”. Pretty much shots down the theory that Apple wants to buy Palm.
Apple’s digital hub is based on SyncML, bluetooth and firewire — you don’t need to care about what kind of OS’es those little gadgets are run on.
” Apple created the iPod, but they didn’t develop the OS — they licensed it from Pixo ”
I met these guys at CTIA two years ago. Their phone platform was and is great. Glad to see they are succeeding.
ryan: you bring up one of the interesting dynamics that are now present. Apple does not necessarily have enormous experience in handhelds but they do in many areas of computing. Nokia and ericsson really know nothing about computing.
You obviosuly never tried any smartphones from Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Very easy to use, a lot of cool features. The only reason why many don’t buy it even though they like it is because of price – something Apple isn’t terribly good at.
People who use smartphones would use it as a phone and PDA mostly. That’s two markets Apple doesn’t understand.
ryan: I think one of the reasons why the danger’s hiptop is so interesting is because it was developed by experts in computing
The guys behind Danger understand the PDA market. They also spent a lot of time understanding the cell phone market. Can Sun make smart phones? After all, they understand computing. As for GUIs, you again obviously never used a Communicator. Very well designed UI. Apple isn’t the only company out there than designs good UIs.
micheal: Just check out the iBook and you’ll see that they really do understand mobility.
Laptops and smartphones are very different…. in as many ways as possible. A compnay that could build good laptops doesn’t mean they are good in making cell phones. Besides, the only thing I like about the iBook is the battery life. The keyboard layout in the 14″ version sucks, the built in speakers sucks….
micheal: This is a great thing. Runs fast, full-featured and finally a more graphical interface for newer high-res palm screens.
BeOS runs fast on PCs because Windows and Mac OS was slow. I doubt BeOS could run that fast on Palm devices. Plus, a new UI wouldn’t be like BeOS’s because it isn’t suitable for an handheld device.
i’ve played with the 9000 and its nice but doesn’t that run symbian (FKA psion)? Didn’t nokia, ericsson and co buy out a that computer maker’s OS exactly to get some computing experience on the OS level. The T68 is also nice.
Nonetheless, time will tell. Look at the innovation that has happened in the market up to now. Already some of the most innovative devices, in my opinion, are comming from the ranks of the data/computing world such as handspring and danger.
The lock that kept companies out of the handset market was largely RF and money. Pansonic, samsung, LG got over that by letting Qualcomm basically design and lay out their phones for them. Even nokia and ericsson are using easy to implement chip sets from people like conexant for their low end phones. Silicon valley has lots of money.
The new ingredient is handheld computing and that plays to the strength of silicon valley and the computing world more then to the strengths of nokia/ericsson/motorola. Not that the latter will die but you will see some exciting stuff coming out of silicon valley. You already have.