TUAW points us to a a choice Newton video, from 1993. In spite of some dated production qualities, this video could serve as a template for marketing the greatest features of the iPhone. Syncing, address books, To Dos, “instant messages.” Lots of features ripe for comparison with the iPhone and other modern devices. It even “squirts” (beams) like a Zune!.
The best part of the video? In the midst of all this enlightened modern living, the video shows a man scribbling away on his Newton while talking on the phone. A pay phone! If only they could somehow combine those two devices! I also like the knowing look and raised eyebrows one worker gives to another just before she “beams” him a message. A subtle suggestion that Newton might actually get you laid.
I never used a Newton much, although I occasionally had my hands on one at work for some debugging purpose. Some of the design considerations really pop out, like the fact that the Newton was almost entirely “soft button” based, much like its nascent offspring. The soft QWERTY keyboard is even reminiscent of the iPhone’s, except that with the Newton it was only intended to be used when the handwriting recognition made a mistake.
Which it did. A lot. Many people consider the failure of adequate recognition on the Newton, and the basically functional compromise of Palm’s “Grafitti” to have been the death blow for the gadget. Amid all the happy music and smiling people, you can tell the issue was weighing heavy on Apple’s mind, too. Halfway through the video the topic changes to “handwriting tips” and more or less stays on the subject for the rest of the promo.
If Apple presents iPhone along with a promotional video that is half devoted to teaching users how to workaround the device’s bugs, then we’ll know it’s doomed.