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March 09, 2005

Apple developing PocketBook?

O'Grady's PowerPage | Apple Developing New Palmtop Mac

Geez, I hope this rumor is true. PowerPage is reporting that Apple is working on a new "pocketop" machine, that would use Inkwell and a stripped-down Mac OS X.

Target hardware: Sony's UX-50, which offered Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, video record, and low-res camera in something that fit in a shirt pocket, and the OQO, a full Wintel machine (not PocketPC) that's 3.5 x 5 x 1 inch, partly thanks to the hard drive used in the iPod.

Target market: Anybody who has ever thought it would be a good idea to carry their laptop with them all the time. It could quickly become the blogger's equivalent of the Radio Shack Model 100, long beloved by journalists, who could carry it anywhere, and file (through acoustic couplers and the built-in 300 baud modem) anywhere they could find a phone. If Apple is truly working toward an online movie store, this machine could also be the portable player.

Target feature set: There are two key factors to creating a world-beating palmtop: battery life, and bandwidth. Users should never have to worry about either one. Bandwidth is a really interesting concern: out here in flyover country, Wi-Fi still doesn't have penetration to give dependable connections from an arbitrary location. Verizon's high-speed wireless would be awesome, and including support for it in hardware might let Apple offer a branded connection (annual iLife, .Mac, frequent OS updates: Apple is really working to drive recurring revenue). Bluetooth to your phone would be nice, but might impact battery life.

The battery has to last a full day; I would guess that's something like 8 hours of usage.

What makes this idea work is running standard OS X software. If I have to learn a whole other set of programs, I'll stick with the laptop. Resolution should be at least 640 x 480: Apple's Displays preference panel mentions that some applications won't display correctly at less than 800 x 600. The OQO is 800 x 480.

Target price: The OQO costs nearly $2,000. The UX-50 was around $600. It's going to be a tough sell if the machine is much more than an iBook, which officially starts at $999.

March 9, 2005 in Apple - General | Permalink


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Interesting rumor . . .

I'm still stuck in Newton mode but I see a different form factor (like the palm) requiring or being improved by a different UI/input method. So OS X with a gestural interface is something I can't get my mind around.

Can you imagine running shell commands on either a thumb keyboard or with an Inkwell-type interface?

Posted by: paul at Mar 9, 2005 10:35:33 PM

Yes -- I have on the Palm, with thumbpad. I couldn't see it with Inkwell.

I think a thumb-board is a nice match for Unix/BSD/OS X shell commands; they're usually fairly short, so you don't have to type much, and you can build shell scripts if you need to bundle chunks together.

I hope this device would be more like all those sweet little notebooks Dynamism always has that aren't for sale in the US: like this from JVC, or the Vaio U-Series.

Posted by: Frank at Mar 14, 2005 5:11:58 PM

On a related note, Business 2.0's latest issue has some interesting Apple concepts (already covered by /.) I read the article and much of it made sense, given Jobs' style (http://www.business2.com/b2/web/articles/0,17863,1037197,00.html).

What I really enjoyed was seeing the gallery of products they'd like to see--including an iWatch, looking very Dick Tracy-ish, and the iHome. Zounds! Looks similar to your xserve-home idea on steroids.


Posted by: Rob at Mar 25, 2005 3:02:47 PM