[NTLK] Finding a new feature!
wheresthatistanbul-newtontalk at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 7 00:43:35 EDT 2011
>I wonder who put the myopia powwder in everybody's coffee at Apple?
It's funny (and completely appropriate in Apple's case) that you chose to use
coffee as part of your analogy to describe Apple's seemingly baffling
behaviour. Yes, on the one hand, their actions concerning the Newton (and the
promise it held) might appear to be the actions of a company asleep at the
However, looked at from a slightly different angle, it could also be said that
Apple experienced a Great Awakening (just the sort of thing that drinking coffee
is known to induce).
>How did they never see that they had a *brilliant* idea, had already turned it
>into this *amazing* >device called the Newton, and were only waiting for the
>technology to catch up so they could make >something even more astonishing?
Well, perhaps they *did* see that they had a brilliant idea on their hands, and
saw it all too well. Ask yourself this: which of these two business plans holds
the greater potential for profit:
A) Being truly innovative. When I say "innovative," I'm specifically referring
to the process of spending a metric diaperload of time and money on
groundbreaking R&D that may or may not pay off in the long run, then having to
invest yet more time and money attempting to explain to consumers just why it is
they should care about your innovative products that help them to do things they
weren't able to do before. Products that, because they -are- so new, the very
consumers you're trying to reach might have a great deal of difficulty
understanding and appreciating just what it is you are offering to them (e.g.
"What is Newton?").
B) Taking concepts that companies (including Apple itself) are already familiar
with, putting these same basic concepts (concepts that potential purchasers are
-also- already familiar with) together in a somewhat different way, then
repackaging and selling them to consumers, taking great care to charge those
consumers for each and every slight improvement offered, every tiny incremental
My money is on "B" :D
>Instead, the technology finally has caught up with the idea only to find the
>idea has been pushed >aside.
Perhaps the idea hasn't been pushed aside so much as deliberately -set- aside?
Apple might, potentially, be taking its users back to a point where the Newton
was long ago:
(Tip o' the fez to Tony Kan.)
The thing is, the journey (if, indeed, there *is* such a journey in the making:
you decide) is clearly going to take place according to Apple's terms, and
according to the timeframe that Apple sets. Again, "slight improvements, tiny
incremental steps," and, all the while, the end users (or consumers, if you
prefer) are going to be worked like Pakistani sweatshop kids. Why? Because
when a technology company decides to adopt the policy of doling out progress in
dribs and drabs, (as opposed to being truly innovative) their customers soon
fall into the habit of being grateful for whatever crumbs happen to be thrown
(Grateful, that is, until another, different company comes along that is willing
to take the time, effort and expense to be innovative, follows through, and ends
up convincing consumers to spend their money on that company's new offerings.)
>I think I'm reaching the point where I can't let myself think about this too
I could be mistaken, but I like to think there's a safe and sane way to consider
all this without losing your marbles. And that is to acknowledge that the Apple
responsible for developing and marketing the Newton is no more. It has rung
down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. It has become.....well, an
ex-parrot, you might say.
The Apple of 2011 is different, not only in name, (i.e. the "Apple, Inc." of
today vs. the "Apple Computer, Inc." of the company's first 30 years) but also
vastly different in terms of their outlook compared to the Apple that developed
the Newton nearly twenty years ago. The two Apples are a world apart, really.
Once you come to grips with this (potentially unpleasant) fact, things become a
whole lot easier to deal with and, suddenly, there's much less angst involved in
contemplating the whole sordid mess. :)
>The decision to leaave behind the Newton tells me that Apple has not only opted
>to focus on >populist devices (arguably a good thing)
The thing to keep in mind (and it's not always easy, I'll admit) with decisions
made by technology firms is that there are always two dimensions to their
decisions: the technological side...and the business side. Frequently, what's
great for one side of the equation isn't equally as great for the other side (it
can be downright detrimental, in fact).
Osborne shipping the Osborne-1 (the sort of manuever known in tech circles as
Getting the Product Out the [expletive] Door) comes to mind. Shipping machines
is a great way of proving to the world that the technology you're trying to sell
is actually being made available to end users and (lookit!) there go the boxes
to prove it.
Unfortunately, having the same machines returned to you 24 hours later for lack
of proper quality control isn't so hot from a business perspective. Naturally,
it means the time your staff *could* be spending getting yet *more* machines out
the door (and more money coming in) must now be spent getting the exact same
machines you shipped out yesterday out the door a second time, but in such a way
that they do not return a second time.
Anyway, the sad fact of the matter (sad, at least, from a technological
perspective) is that There is Money in Mediocrity. Apple has realized this and,
indeed, has come to embrace this outlook (the Great Awakening I referred to
>but to turn their back on a what I think will turn out to be the most versatile
>electronic workhorse >anyone has ever produced.
That is exactly the point I've been trying to arrive at: the Newton became the
"versatile electronic workhorse" (at least, in a personal information management
sense) it is known for being today precisely because of Apple's "mistake." The
"mistake" of developing world-beating technology, then *abandoning it* and, by
doing so, creating an opening a mile wide for end users and developers to crawl
through and make it their own, have it perform the tasks they want it to do and
(this is the really important part from a technological vantage point) *on their
own terms,* rather than Apple's.
One look at iOS will tell you relinquishing control to the sort of degree they
did with the Newton is a mistake that Apple is quite unlikely ever to make
again. And while I, personally, might consider the philosophy behind iOS to be
tantamount to the sort of philosophy one might find at Stalag 13 of "Hogan's
Heroes" fame, (with Steve Jobs in the Colonel Klink role*) it's plain to see
that from a business perspective (rather than a technological one) iOS is Sheer
Brilliance, with Apple all but dictating what key their developers and end users
are licensed to fart in (and then charging them for the privilege of breaking
There is probably no better time than now to be an Apple shareholder. But an
Apple user? Maybe not so much. I'm sure a lot of it depends on your personal
Of course, if Colonel Klink and Schultz are all you've ever known, things
probably don't seem so bad. However, if you were a young buck back when
microcomputers were new and exciting machines, (machines that you, the end user,
were used to making all the decisions for) the thought of spending any length of
time in the sort of OS stalag that Apple seems all-too-happy to park its end
users in today might be enough to get you to start thinking about hoarding soup
cans to use as makeshift air shafts for when you're busy tunneling out of the
At any rate, being familiar with the Newton may or may not make the direction
that Apple is currently taking that much harder to watch. As I say, a lot of it
depends on your personal outlook, and I'm not about to claim that my own outlook
matches that of anyone else. ::grimaces sourly:: ;)
*If the monocle fits...
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