Re: [NTLK] [OT] [iPh] What I think of Newtons and iPhones

From: Lord Groundhog <>
Date: Sat Jul 14 2007 - 09:31:08 EDT

~~~ On 2007/07/14 07:12, Jon Glass at wrote ~~~

> Guy-
> I think you missed his point, which was this, simply:
>>> Barring the fact that synchronization is a bit unruly (which is a sign
>>> of age, for the most part), I still think the Newton is ahead of the
>>> iPhone as far as functionality and features go.
> Which, if you will think about it, is patently obvious. The Newton was
> built with expanadability in mind--both on the hardware end and
> software end. It was, in truth, a full-blown computer platform. Yes,
> it's dead, yes, it's based on outdated technology, but the iPhone is
> just what its name implies--a phone. Yes, it has potential, should
> Apple let it, but it is not a Newton. It's something else--That
> said...
And to me that touches the heart of it. That aggrieved, slightly ragged
tone that some of "die-hards" have -- and I suppose I could be one of those
-- is that the reason the Newton is "dead" and "based on outdated
technology" is that the necessary effort to keep it alive and up-to-date was
taken from it, in our view, quite unnecessarily. And used to make an iPhone
that might as Guy says have some passing likeness to the Newton, but one
that has ignored those features of the Newton that we most love. When all
is said and done, it's a phone with some well-executed add-ons. Apple has
out-Blackberried the Blackberry. The only reason the Newton lacks the
modern technology that makes the iPhone so much more connectable and
synchable is because that technology was officially withheld from it. The
reason the iPhone lacks the distinctive functionality of the Newton so many
of us love (and so many of my friends admire) in more up-to-date form is
that Apple chose to leave it out. Result: a deep disappointment for what
might have been.

So the cat has exited the bag. It's not simply that I mind the Newton dying
per se, it's that I mind it being allowed to die for reasons that are not in
my mind adequate for such a drastic act. And the effort that would have
kept it alive and kicking was exerted in another direction instead. IMO, it
didn't have to be "either/or". It's as if a health authority decided kill
one patient by directing all treatment entirely on another one, without even
attempting to save both.

Having said that, I appreciate the force of your point about Apple's history
of making change happen by cutting off legacy support for things they want
to replace with something else. It's true, but in some cases regarding the
iPhone, I'm not convinced about the wisdom of it. The apparent dependence
on being connected to the net is one of those. Have I misunderstood things
(being one of those in benighted not-North America with no chance to see an
iPhone in action), or is an awful lot of extra functionality of the iPhone
dependent upon being connected? I ask because *if* it is the case, it
suggests to me that those functions are only available when one is able to
connect. Being on an airplane is for now one of the times when most of us
don't get to be connected to much of anything, and a completely
self-contained machine is unbeatable at times like that.

And then there's the question I have to ask, assuming that using the extra
functionality is connection-dependent: how much will it cost to have a
data-connection active for so much of the time?

Please help me out here; I simply can't see how that part of it works for
most of us. For all I know I've misunderstood how they intend Web 2.0 apps
to work on the iPhone -- seems to me that right now the phrase means so many
different things to different people.

As for your point about forcing the cell phone industry to innovate, good on
Apple for that, but I still get looks of astonishment from my niece (who
lives in the States) when I tell her that it costs me nothing here in the UK
when I receive a call and I only pay for the ones I make (over my limit).
Can it possibly still be widespread that the folks back home still pay to
get mobile phone calls? If it is, the level of innovation needed Stateside
is much more basic than simply trying to get the cell carriers to become
more Web 2.0-friendly. Good luck with that.

I know this'll sound strange from me, but I disagree that the 1st generation
iPhone will be forgotten. I think that as a phone it will be remembered for
a long time to come, just as the first iPod will be, for breaking some new
ground. The rub is, I wish it were going to be memorable for returning the
functionality of the Newton, in new and more polished form, to us.


~~~ ~~~ ~~~

łAny sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from a Newton.˛
            -- What Arthur C. Clarke meant to say
(With thanks to Chod Lang)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~
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Received on Sat Jul 14 09:31:26 2007

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