Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is iPhone another Newton?

Hardie posted a comment to one of my blog entries, cautioning that the iPhone hype and lust is reminiscent of Newton, which was a much hotter product before its release than after. That got me to poking around for some Newton background, and I came up with this gem:

Newton Getting Started Video (1993)

This video is strong testimony to both the appeal and shortcomings of Newton's handwriting recognition. Part One is a promise of little bit of technology heaven, "Newton is really peace of mind right in the palm of your hand," reinforcing Apple's position as a religion disguised as a product company. Part Two (beginning at Handwriting Tips, 3:55 mins into the piece) is a not-too-subtle admission that the handwriting recognition needed a quite a bit of body english to work well.

(BTW: Tom Hormby has compiled a detailed version of the origins of Newton. See also the Wikipedia entry on Apple Newton)

Mickeleh's Take: Handwriting recognition got really good in later versions of Newton, but you only get one chance to make a first impression. What will be the first impression that customers have of the iPhone onscreen keyboard?

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