Following the iPhone’s introduction last week, Leander Kahney from Wired emailed me to solicit thoughts about the product and the Newton. He posted his article yesterday which features quotes from several individuals from the Newton community.
In my email, I was generally very positive about the iPhone, but I was concerned about the apparent closed-system approach Apple seems to be taking regarding third-party development. No doubt some third-parties will be able to write applications for the iPhone, but the process will be more like the iPod than like the Newton. I wrote that the “Newton has lived on far past its termination date largely due to the amount of high-quality third-party software (and hardware) available.” Other phones — Treo, Blackberry, Windows PocketPC Smartphones, etc. — allow for third-party applications, why not the iPhone?
All that said, remember that the iPhone is just the first of potentially many products from Apple. If anyone can resurrect the spirit and functionality of Newton, it’s Apple. I suspect that in a year’s time, they will have worked out the kinks in the product and OS to allow any software developer to write apps for the device. They’ll start first with Dashcode and iPhone widgets and gradually move towards building in project support into XCode.
I for one would love to develop for the iPhone, and I hope we get the opportunity to do so. Come June, I’ll be taking a hard look at purchasing one to replace my cracked-screen Sony Ericsson t68i. The iPhone might not replace my Newton was note taking purposes, but it will be something I can carry everywhere without having to bring my man-purse. Of course, the F-3XB also holds my camera, wallet, and keys, but things will be much lighter with just the iPhone and not the Newton.
Speaking of the Newton, for Christmas, my cousin gave me a “brand-new” MessagePad 2000. His workplace was doing some winter-cleaning, and he came across a mint-condition MP2000 still in the box. This was the one that came with the external keyboard and carrying case. I think it retailed for $999 back in 1997!
Leander linked to a cool The Joy of Tech comic that echoes many Newton owners’ feelings about their Newtons: