It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

Summary: Apple could launch its next iconic product line by bringing back the Newton.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple, Hardware, Mobility
48

Apple pushes the envelope when it comes to breakthrough devices that become iconic symbols in the marketplace. Even before the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, there was the ill-fated Newton. The Newton's short life had as much to do with being too far ahead of the capable technology of the time as it did internal fighting at Apple. It was doomed when Sculley was forced out at Apple and Steve Jobs came back, as the latter was not a fan of the stylus.

It didn't last long but the Newton became a cult device that is still around today. While the interest is due to being a groundbreaking device with a place in consumer electronics history, the concept is still intriguing. I've been giving this a lot of thought, and I think that it's time for Apple to bring back the Newton. I think it could become the next iconic product line from the company famous for iconic products.

Imagine a 6-inch slate, a mini-iPad if you will, that is thin, light and ties into the Apple iTunes/iCloud ecosystem. Basically a larger iPod Touch, with fast processor and tons of internal storage. The Wi-Fi connected Newton would fit right into the existing Apple customer base.

This Newton would allow Apple to introduce what is essentially a smaller iPad without losing face. There is definitely a market for a smaller iPad, but under Steve Jobs Apple has said no. Introducing the Newton as a "new" product line gets around past statements, and lets Apple test the waters for a small iPad. Tim Cook could make this his inaugural vision post-Jobs.

The new Newton would be a full iPad, but with special apps to make it more personal and tie into the Newton history. I envision a super calendar, contacts, and email experience that make this little guy instantly appealing. Tight integration with social networks and iTunes content would make this a very personal device for the owner. Apple's penchant for making the device owner feel like the gadget was made just for him/her would permeate the Newton experience.

What about Apple's disdain for the stylus? The new Newton doesn't need one. Think Siri voice control integrated into every aspect of Newton operation. The Siri technology is already good enough to pull this off, with dictation, and Apple could expand it to make the Newton the new definition of "personal" assistant.

I believe a Newton could be the Next Big Thing for Apple, one that competitors can't touch given the Siri technology. Apple would once again have a totally new product line that is built on existing products, but developed in ways the competition can't touch. This is the very model Apple is famous for following, and I believe it would work wonderfully for a new Newton.

Image credit: Blake Patterson

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

48 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

    I had a Newton. I invested a lot in that little device, and when Apple pulled support I was so mad I vowed never to buy an Apple product again. To this day I will not consider owning an Apple product.
    hkindle
    • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

      @hkindle I had absolutely the same experience. No Apples for me. Haven't felt the worse for it, either !
      borax99
    • Ladies and gentlemen we have a national emergency...

      @hkindle won't buy an Apple product. Sell your stock, your iPhones, iPads, and children. We're doomed!
      godsfault
      • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

        @godsfault Exactly, who knew that the Newton had such a strong base (must be the same two people that purchased Sculley's book). The Newton was incomplete without connectivity. It wasn't selling well. Get over it. What company has not dropped a product in its history?
        AdamS12
      • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

        @godsfault Exactly, who knew that the Newton had such a strong base (must be the same two people that purchased Sculley's book). The Newton was incomplete without connectivity. It wasn't selling well. Get over it. What company has not dropped a product in its history?
        AdamS12
      • iPad 2 Sells for $100.03

        iPad 2 Sells for $100.03
        An iPad 2 Just Sold For $100.03 That's 79% OFF the RETAIL Price! Visit http://xpavel.zeekler.com/ Now and Start Saving Today
        xpavel
  • If Steve Jobs said no

    it was for good reason. Look at Apple's stock price these days as proof that he knew more then anyone else alive.
    William Farrel
    • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

      @William Farrel exactly correct. steve jobs is always right and who does anyone think they are to doubt or disagree with him? consumers don't know what's best for them and whoever speaks positively of a stylus is a complete fool that deserves scorn.
      malert
      • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

        @malert
        "whoever speaks positively of a stylus is a complete fool that deserves scorn. "

        You obviously haven't used any kind of digital ink technology or *good* stylus digitizer before. It's the same problem with touchpads. The problem is not the stylus but the bad implementation of stylus.
        Samic
      • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

        @malert +100 for hooking one.
        Champ_Kind
    • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

      @William Farrel
      But you also forget Jobs also said no to a lot of things and then changed his mind, that includes tablets as well.
      Samic
      • FOR GOD'S SAKE...@malert IS KIDDING!

        @Samic WTF?
        IT_Fella
    • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

      @William Farrel

      Steve Jobs also said:

      [quote]We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk; our DNA will not let us do that.
      ~ Steve Jobs (on Oct 20, 2008).[/quote]
      Yet the iPad is: $499. Isn't a tablet computer still a computer?

      [quote]Good artists copy. Great artists steal.
      ~ Steve Jobs[/quote]
      [quote]We have always been shameless at stealing great ideas.
      ~ Steve Jobs[/quote]
      For substantiation, please Google the quotes verbatim, and witness what comes back.

      [i]~~~~~~~~~~
      The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.
      ~ Florence Scovel Shinn[/i]
      WinTard
      • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

        @WinTard
        From this we learn technology goes down in price over time.

        WinTards didn't learn anything because they only listen to Ballmer.

        "We've have always been shameless at stealing great ideas."

        From this Jobs meant, take good ideas (obviously as long as they aren't patent protected) instead of reinventing the wheel.

        Ballmer in his rush to copy Jobs forgets the implied (obviously as long as they aren't patent protected) and copies ideas from companies like i4i and gets sued for hundreds of millions of dollars.
        anono
      • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

        @WinTard
        According to Jobs, a tablet is NOT a computer (as they existed when he made the 'not junk' remark). Tablets are "Post PC Devices".

        Stealing ideas not implementations. In other words Apple looks for the best concepts (not products) and then tries to make them usable and accessible through unique implementations. In the cases where there is already a product associated with the idea, Apple usually pays for it (windowed desktop from PARC, P.A. Semiconductor, Siri, Anobit, etc...)

        For substantiation, look back over nearly 40 years of Apple history. I lived through it and I actually paid attention.
        use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

        @WinTard

        There is a knack to taking a quote out of context and you have mastered that particular spin skill.

        For example, the quote about the $500.00 computer must be kept in the TIME FRAME context that is was spoken in. In 2008, a desktop computer system for 500 dollars WAS junk. (My opinion, of course, but there you go.) And, if memory recalls, Steve Jobs presented the iPad as a device between a smartphone and a computer. He referred to the iPad as a tablet. Only others attributed the definition of computer to the iPad. (BTW, I'm in that camp. I've always considered the iPad a computer. Not the most powerful computer in the world but one, non-the-less.)

        But I digress. If you wish to use that particular quote as a reference to an iPad that surfaced two years later, well, go right ahead and display to all the world your ability to spin a topic to your point of view. I'm not saying that the art of spin is not without merit. This is, after all, an election year and the political spin doctors are in great demand. But it has been my experience that spin doctors only protray a rather narrow biased view into the truth of a historical event.

        WinTard, the ZDNet Spin Doctor. It has a nice ring to it.
        kenosha77a
    • Yes, but he's not in charge anymore

      @William Farrel
      Apple can only be run by seance for so long.
      John L. Ries
    • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

      @William Farrel

      Steve Jobs was also the 'mastermind' behind the Apple III and the Lisa, two of the biggest failures in tech history. Steve Jobs is dead, let the myth of his infallibility die with him.
      Doctor Demento
  • RE: It's time for Apple to bring back the Newton

    I owned a Newton back in the day and liked it, but eventually moved over to a Palm Pilot 5000. The Pilot's portabililty made it an honest to God, usable PDA. It as the frist true pen computer that could fit in your shirt pocket. I even had Chipmonk basic running on the device so I could complete simple programming tasks. The lack of a 7" iPad is about 90% of the reason why I use an Android tablet instead of an iOS device. Here again, portability is key. My HTC Flyer fits comfortably in a jacket pocket, and I take mine everywhere I go.

    You're right that branding the device a Newton would allow Apple to save some face, and I'd love to have a 6" or 7" iPad option, but I suspect calling it a Newton might cause some brand confusion. Not to mention the fact that the Newton was roundly ridiculed for its spotty handwriting recognition, and became the butt of many jokes: with the Doonesbury comic strip running a whole series making fun of the device and its tendency to translate your handwriting in absurd and sometimes colorful ways.
    dsf3g
  • Newton

    There is not enough product differentiation between a Newton and an iPad. The iPad has more product recognition than Newton ever did. There just isn't any justification for resurrecting the brand.
    bmonsterman