reported on July 6, industry analyst Tim Bajarin picks Apple and Sony as the two current manufacturers of desktop computers most like to survive or emerge to “eventually own the consumer markets for next generation of PCs and other digital devices that drive the digital lifestyle.” Jon Fortt of the San Jose Mercury News also finds some interesting similarities between the two — and ponders a possible Apple handheld device.
preview of Sony’s newest Palm-powered device, the US$400 Clie 610C, he questions whether Apple will soon be entering the realm of handheld computers. (Or perhaps that should be “reentering,” since it was a pioneer in the field with the late, lamented-by-many Newton, which bit the dust three years ago.)
“Sony and Apple tend to go after the same tech crowd — image-conscious gadget lovers,” Fort writes. “Sony was the first PC maker to adopt the IEEE 1394 (FireWire) data transfer standard that Apple pioneered and is widely available in digital camcorders, and Sony almost bought Apple in the mid-1990s, when the company was in financial trouble. So if Sony is going multimedia with a handheld, perhaps Apple’s not far behind.”
Of course, in May 2000 Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, plainly stated that there was “nothing going on” with Apple in handheld development; the company hasn’t officially changed its mind. And Fortt is skeptical that Apple will reenter the handheld market anytime soon, if at all. He said the company is focusing so much attention on Mac OS X and its hardware that it may not have the resources left to develop a personal digital assistant.
“Also, it is no longer clear that Apple would use the Palm platform for handhelds,” Fortt said. “Apple’s new OS X operating system is based on Unix, so some analysts say it is likely Apple would base its handhelds on something more akin to that. It is also possible that Apple would start off using the Palm platform, and switch later … the introduction of a new handheld computer platform could distract software developers at a time when Apple wants them to focus on shipping software tailored for OS X.”
Of course, some would argue that the lack of “ease of use” between the Clie and Macs would be an impetus for Apple to develop a handheld. But, like Fortt, this reporter doesn’t expect to see a Newton sequel anytime soon.