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.