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« Q2 Smartphone Market Top 10 Numbers | Main | Anticipating Apple Strategy Shift with iPhone, with Warning From History »

August 31, 2017


Mats Olshammar

I would add a small camera sensor, a low cost sensor, with cheap small optics that can focus on small objects that are really close. I have used my phone as a magnifier glass many times and with dedicated sensor and optics it could be improved at low cost.




Thank god, I'd say. This stuff is in desperate need of getting standardized first, and Apple would make sure it'd all remain an incompatible mess until all eternity.

But overall you are right. Those are the two fields in computing technology with the biggest growth prospect (although I'd never ever buy into this stuff myself) and Apple is conspicuously absent here.

But isn't this all something we've been saying about Apple for some time now? They have become somewhat complacent, depending ever more on the iPhone's success. Which of course makes them highly vulnerable if there was a genuine disruption in the field of mobile computing. And what if this disruption is just something that's breaking the lock between mobile hardware and software, like the transition of software to the web? Yes, I know that the iFans endlessly repeat that native software is better (which indeed it is right now) - but who is saying that this will remain so? I guess once a web app can give the same great user experience as a native one a lot of things will change. (And if someone now counters that web apps may leak more data, let me tell you that this isn't so. Native apps have far more access to the underlying system and can send everything they can get to their maker, because there's almost no abstraction between them and the system. I have seen first hand what some of those telemetry SDKs do.)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi gang

On whether the market is dead or not. I think that is 'exactly' the kind of market Apple excels in. The stand-alone digital camera market is in decline - this is exactly like the music player market before the iPod. What eventually came, was the music phone, which killed what remained of the stand-alone music market, but Apple came and invented a whole new market segment - that now it essentially has to itself - even as the rest of the music-player market has all-but-disappeared. And Apple had that iPod cash-cow for 15 years.

The 'need' to have a camera is not going away. The FORM FACTOR of the super-slim smartphone prevents 'great' camera tech. Whatever iMagic Apple does with software, doesn't take away, that SOME pocket cameras can do FAR BETTER things - as cameras.

Most consumers today, who have NEVER EVEN OWNED a stand-alone camera, for most of them, what they have on their Huawei Honor smartphone is perfectly 'enough' and they wouldn't know the difference of Xenon flash to LED flash. So your flash is "a bit stronger, is that it?"... MOST who own a mobile phone based camera, will not particularly even care and value almost anything in a modern top-end pocket camera (or a bottom-end DSLR camera either) which are WAY WAY WAY too complex for them. They are effectively out of the market for stand-alone cameras.

Owners of stand-alone cameras do not replace their cameras anywhere near as frequently as smartphone owners do. It means there is also a considerable pent-up demand of camera owners who feel their current gear is getting a bit old, and modern top-end smartphones are doing 'just about as good' as the 5-6 year old pocket digital camera.

But in absolute numbers, the stand-alone digital camera market is in the 50M to 70M scale this year (as it keeps declining from the peak of about 100M that it once had).

For almost all who own a pocket digital camera (not DSLR) they are wishing and hoping that someone made that excellent compromise, that they could both have their digital pocket camera (modern version) AND it also be their phone, that they would not need 2 devices and specifically, that their next purchase could combine the two. This way, obviously, if Apple 'only did the Apple Camera' that was not an iPhone - that would not fully address this market - but this market exists. How big, its anybody's guess. Could be 10M per year, could be 50M per year, and if Apple did it, could be even bigger than that (remember, this slice ignores the pro and semi-pro DSLR market).

Lets side-step here - what my iCamera is - is a PREMIUM SMARTPHONE. It is only MARKETED as something else - because Apple doesn't want it ever thought of as the ugly iPhone. In reality this is a premium-price luxury-end super-expensive smartphone that costs somewhere well above 1,000 dollars and several hundred dollars above the current top-end iPhone price point. This brings two other important market segments into play - there are those who want the best cameraPHONE already (usually camera buffs, but some would also be recent first-buyers of a good camera on a phone, that never owned a stand-alone camera, that are turning into photographers, but only using a cameraphone). And there are those who 'simply want the best' or 'simply want the most expensive'. Who 'really don't care what it costs' within mass market brands and products. Who always buy a Mercedes, or always buy a Cadillac, etc. They would not think of buying a Ford or a Toyota, no matter how good reviews that car got.

These two phone markets are probably modest (in millions, rather than tens of millions in size) but they would be VERY eager to buy the iCamera and essentially not care about its price. Note in all these first three segments there are plenty of current iPhone owners - but there would be MORE consumers who are NOT currently iPhone owners. That means this iCamera would be a way to capture new customers - at the TOP end of the market (rather than a cheap iPhone in plastic, trying to capture mid-price customers ie the 'low end' for iPhone).

This is all before we consider the current iPhone owners. Now, what I am suggesting from the handset/mobile phone market analyst angle, is that someone (=Apple) create a new device CATEGORY that I am certain has a big market potential, but currently is not served. Because the use of the camera FUNCTION on the phone is exploding worldwide (second most used feature already behind mobile messaging) - the POTENTIAL for this type of specialist-device category - is mostly untapped and probably considerably under-estimated in any research - because the research reflects studies done in the recent past, when smartphone photography was less obsessive. The new phone category would be like the SUV in car markets. Invented by Range Rover and took a while until it became popular, but today EVERY car maker does an SUV. And often the SUV is the most profitable model of the car range. And the SUV is 'ugly' and large compared to 'regular cars'. But someone invented that category - took a military vehicle (Jeep, Land Rover) and turned that concept into a family car. It is not the most popular type of car today but it is one of the most common car vehicle types.

Now Nokia, Samsung and others have tried to do something like this in the past. And for a vast multitude of reasons, the 'camera-optimized' smartphone concept has fizzled out. I am 100% certain, that if Apple made ANY camera-optimized modest attempt at an iCamera, it would instantly revive this aspect of phones, and a permanently-sustainable market slice would become viable - because that is the power of Apple.

So back to my argument/s - as this device IS a mobile phone, then it is IMMUNE to the destruction happening in the stand-alone camera market. But because this IS a phone, it would capture a MASSIVE SLICE out of that potential, of those consumers who currently do own a digital stand-alone pocket camera, and want to buy a newer model, but do want it to also have a phone, so they don't want to buy an obsolete product today, seeing how smartphone cameras are evolving becoming ever better.

Now add the Apple fans, the hysterical euphoria of media and marketing and creative people - can you imagine what Hollywood would do with the iCamera that sees in the dark and has a 32x zoom lens as the pocket telescope (and microscope)... - but then add the semi-pro DSLR crowd. Most of those will not abandon their expensive Nikon or Canon gear. But many of those WOULD buy the iCamera anyway, as their primary phone (and reserve camera). And because this is Apple and the iCamera would be remarkably easy to use, but very powerful (for a pocket camera) - THIS would become for SOME their new camera, that causes them to stop using the old DSLR camera setup - or vastly diminish its use. And THAT is yet another angle to the story - as pro and semi-pro camera users start to show up with a smartphone. That would all just add to the magical power of this device - that movie-makers, photojournalists, ad people etc - are starting to use the Apple phone as their camera? Not just any iPhone, of course it would be the iCamera.

So lets say the stand-alone pocket camera market is something around 50 million. Lets say the DSLR market is somewhere around 10 million. And if Apple took 20% of the pocket camera market (10M units) and 10% of the DSLR (1M) that is 11M already - which is now a bigger success than the first year of the iPhone.

Then add to that, those who are camera users now but only on smartphones. Who are 'camera buffs' but have gone to the dark side of mobile. Out of 1,600 million smartphones sold this year how many are serious camera freaks? Say 10% thats 160 million. They would all WANT the iCamera, to a person - but many could not afford it (new). Say 10% only could actually afford it (remember many of the affluent in the West would be in the above first two categories - they would already OWN a stand-alone camera, I am talking of those who don't own a stand-alone camera of any kind, or have already abandoned the use of one). That is still 16 million. And these people really have no other options (currently) so if they could afford it, they would be lining up to the iCamera.

And then add iSheep. The above 27 Million would very roughly speaking be about half current iPhone owners anyway (lets call it 14M to keep the math easy at even millions). BUT of iSheep, a bunch of Apple product owners who hadn't particularly 'wished' for a magical super-camera - when shown what all this device can do - they will LOVE it. How many more, some millions definitely. Say 5M. The total now is at 32M for this market.

Why the hell not? The camera FUNCTION market has never stopped growing. It is growing still at enormous speeds. It is only the stand-alone camera TYPE that is in decline. And the iCamera would be immune to the stand-alone camera market collapse - because the iCamera is an iPhone too.

Diminishing or non-viable markets is HOW APPLE DOES ITS MAGIC. That is exactly how the iPod was conceived. And even after all other digital music players have quit the music player market - Apple still today sells iPods. Plus it then cannibalized that market with the iPhone (aka iPod with mobile phone).

To me, the market opportunity is glaringly obvious and it only stuns me from year to year, that nobody is able to/willing to do this properly and capture this market. I do think that if Anssi Vanjoki had been in charge at Nokia rather than Elop, when the Nokia 808 Pureview was developed and released - it would have gotten maximum management attention and a huge global push - and this market would have been essentially created then, 5 years ago. Today all major brands would have their cameraphone variant - bulkier phones not competing on who is the thinnest - and if Apple was not already in it with their iCamera, then all analysts would be pushing Apple, when do we get your answer to the camera-optimized phones (similar to the push of Apple to phablet-sized screens).

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Well, sorry, but in my opinion that's your enthusiasm about the subject matter of cameras clouding the issue.

And it's definitely not comparable to the music player market - the main difference being that the music player market was a standalone product segment at the time before the iPod without little overlap with other product types - its only problem being a lack of forward-looking user-friendly product - whereas the camera market as a whole has not shrunk - it just has been absorbed to a large degree by the smartphone market, plus being far more diverse in quality and price points. Apple cannot just fill in some void here like they did both with the iPod and iPhone where they took advantage of the fundamental design issues with older products in their segment.

And no amount of revolutionary new camera technology will make that go away, meaning that the standalone camera market will inevitably be limited to a low 7 digit figure with very little growth potential. It neither has mass market appeal nor potential fashion status (which is the only reason that the Apple Watch hasn't tanked completely) How much can Apple take from that with a high end product? 10%? 20%? I think that's it, meaning 5 million units sold per year at most. I cannot see how that can amortize the research costs that'd be needed to get it done.

I think the situation is obvious: Those who are in need of a high quality camera already got enough choice, there's also sufficient mid-range offerings and for the rest the smartphone is good enough.

James Glu

Phone as cameras haven't sold well because you have your phone with you all the time. The extra bulk needed for the superior camera is simply not worth it. It wouldn't be worth it for an "always extra thick and heavy iPhone" either.

Apple cares very much for photography...that's why the iPhone cameras have been so good since the iPhone 4.

It's the DSLR market Apple could go after with a knock out mirrorless camera, a set of excellent lenses, that's as easy to,use as an iPhone and works seemlessly together with an iPhone. Apple could improve on how regular users could get expert results compared to the complexity the real photographers must master to get the most out of their cameras.

My biggest question is "how big is THAT market"?

For,that matter, I wish Apple would come up with an external flash system for my iPhone. The long lens and portrait mode have upped the iPhone to a true portrait tool. I love the results I am able to get...missing only the ability to add more powerful and creative flash strategies.

For that matter...Apple design and engineered lenses would be a great addition to the iPhone.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi everybody

I love not just the positive comments liking this idea (thanks) but also the sensible concerns and negative comments too (thanks for those as well). I appreciate it that you guys know I am serious and you're also being serious (mostly). So of course I'll also deal with the doubts, concerns and negative comments. If this idea had no merit, then I could not 'defend' it against concerns :-)

Hold on, replies coming

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi E, Tester and Jim

E - haha very true (acquisition targets)

Tester - A valid concern (Tim Cook vs Steve Jobs). I think regardless of Tim's 'cookishness' natural to his business personality, perhaps some 'fiscal responsibility' would be justified. I think the GAP in the market is so huge, that even a modest iCamera initial version (take all my specs and cut them by half, so 50mp sensor, 16x optical zoom, single Xenon flash etc) would still be a HUGE success (and would then give room for Apple to expand in future iCameras to 'even more' haha).

Then on 'why invest in falling market' - I had that reply in the above, so for now, Tester, I trust you will accept that initial reply, and feel free to dig into that 'logic' and we can take this argument 'deeper' if you want haha.

Jim - first obviously on 'why invest in falling market' see iPod etc analysis above (same as for Tester). But onto your analysis part. I agree the Apple magic as a corporation and launcher of new products would serve it well in this venture, very much like the Apple Watch (turning something out of nothing).

On the issue of adding the iCamera to the top end of the iPhone product range, this gives a bonus benefit, apart from the revenues and profits - Apple would gain (at least for a few years) a boost in its market share. If the current product line will gradually decline in market share towards say 12% or 10% (from 14%) and the iCamera could sell in the 50 million unit level in 2 years, that would be about 2 point gain, recovering the decline from 14% to 12% back to about 14%. With a little bit of occasional market fluctuation, Apple could easily be momentarily (one year) above 15% even, and give a 'sustainable market' image that they could hold to something near 15% rather than be plunged to 'Macintosh territory' under 10% (which otherwise the worryists will start to sing, once iPhone hits 12%). While this would not be my primary reason why to do this, it would be a further benefit.

I think the significantly bigger benefits apart from the obvious pure profit motive of the most expensive smartphone sold by any major manufacturer globally - haha - would be the gains to the iOS ecosystem. While many who would buy the iCamera would be Apple users already, many others - might be close to half of total iCamera buying consumer market - are NOT iOS users today (some have been in the past). And THOSE new buyers would all be VERY affluent consumers who would now be enticed to make their next PC a Mac, and their next tablet an iPad... Great extra business from customers who otherwise could not be easily converted.

Of the symbiotic relationship with the iPhone. Here I strongly disagree with you. I agree, it would be a 'knee-jerk' reaction at Apple HQ to make this an accessory to the iPhone (like Apple Watch) that cannot work independently. I think Apple 'received the message' already with the Apple Watch. You have to have the network connectivity on this device (SIM card) for the iCamera user to be ABLE to go into the wilderness without carrying a second phone with him or her. And to be able to abandon the iPhone and only use the iCamera.

Now, if the iCamera was CHEAPER than the iPhone (put a SIM card into an iPod haha) - then there would be a genuine fear, that the cheaper product would cannibalize the big profits in the main iPhone line. But because the iCamera would be inherently more expensive than the iPhone - then ANY shift of existing iPhone users to buy iCameras, would be a GAIN in total profits, by moving Apple customers 'up the price pyramid'. NOTE - once the Apple customer has accepted the idea, that actually $1,200 for a new iPhone is not ridiculously outrageous and their next PHABLET a year later, costs say $1,100 - that will not seem as expensive either... And obviously iCamera 2 costing then say $1,500 will suddenly seem like acceptable too (as long as it then is significantly better than original iCamera 1 haha).

Hey Jim - on you owning an iPhone now, but not buying the iCamera to replace your DSLR setup. I get it, makes sense. But what about the next iPhone upgrade 18 months from now? If Apple had a phablet flagship iPhone 9 on 'predictable upgrade' of the current product line, and the first gen iCamera at a 1-year price drop, say costing $999 - but now you get my magical spec set - would you buy the iCamera when you have your next regular iPhone upgrade cycle? Or while not necessarily buying it - would you give it serious consideration in the store? (and if you have a subsidy with your current iPhone, assume same LEVEL of subsidy with iCamera, so if your iPhone now had a sticker price of $199 with subsidiy, assume iCamera could be $399 with subsidy and 2 year contract).

(more replies coming)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi John

Your comment had a series of issues, so I'll do just a reply to that. Thanks for the follow-up...

So first 35mm sensor. I wasn't meaning to match currently a 35mm sensor, I meant something smaller than that, but bigger than current smartphone sensors, so something typical in pocket cameras like a 2/3 sensor. That of course shrinks the optics to the size also in pocket cameras. I wasn't trying to do a DSLR equivalent.

So conceptually, take the current top-end Olympus/Canon/Panasonic/Nikon/Sony type point-and-shoot pocket cameras, that cost about $500 - and 'marry that' with an iPhone. On retail value, we're at about $1,200 of hardware (including profit) with considerable tech overlap (screen, metal case, CPU, battery etc) so at best $1,000 in hardware of the merged product (including profit). But then, note the profits on pocket cameras are done on trivially small production runs, if compared to iPhone volumes. So Apple would gain with massive volume as well (further improving its profits).

But from the sheer camera tech side, take the current top pocket cameras. They will always have Xenon flash, this means they have a real mechanical shutter too, and the top end currently does go to 30x optical zoom, in about that $500 price range. Technically what I am suggesting is not a radical leap in tech, while being yes, close to the cutting edge. Similar to how most of the original iPhone tech was not radical, just the package was, but it had a few 'oh wow' tech features ('look at the SIZE of the MASSIVE screen') haha or on the original iPod (wow, 1,000 songs !!!!)

Focusing and metering yes. We discussed focusing a bit in the above, but we do have autofocus already on most top-end smartphones and that also is obviously in those pocket cameras. To move larger glass optical elements of a 'professional' 35mm camera would add a lot of bulk and weight, this is why the exact optical sensor size would indeed be the first issue (physical size of sensor, not its pixel count, so 15mm, 20mm, 25mm, 30mm, 35mm whatever is the actual sensor physical size. The smaller that sensor can be, the less bulky (and less heavy) will the zoom lens be, and also less bulky & less heavy will the auto-focus system be. With all that said, from the original autofocus lenses from many decades ago, there has been a ton of tech evolution also on those. What Apple would need is obviously a 'sweet spot' where sensor physical size would be 'just large enough' to handle the light requirements (but not at all larger) and then obviously match that with the smallest optics that can be matched with that (but not at all smaller). This is the classic mathematical 'dual optimization' equation that gives us the 'saddle point' curve ie the Mountain-pass optimization equation.

What makes this far better for Apple vs regular camera makers is the computer side. On the standard top-end iPhone, Apple has far more CPU crunching power than the typical pocket camera. Add to that Apple's considerable history now of camera 'problem-fixing software' such as improving low-light quality of photographs. So when this is added to the mix, then Apple will most definitely 'get by with' a smaller-size (physical dimensions) sensor, than any rival pure-camera maker, to deliver 'equivalent photograph quality' at the end. With this, Apple's chances to mate a physically slightly smaller optical array in front of a slightly smaller sensor, would be part of the 'magic' where Apple could do this, but nobody else has bothered to try to do it (yet). Similar a bit to how Nokia back in the 2008-2011 time frame has the smartphone sales SCALE to go and do the photography miracles with their 808 Pureview... an amazing piece of tech while the new CEO would utterly ignore his most amazing phone, in favor of the lousy Windows Lumia toys.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Long, Tomifan, Per, Winter

Long - haha Samsung did try with the Zoom series of Galaxies (2 devices were also phones, a third was just a camera with the Galaxy OS). Because Sammy 'got burned' (really REALLY bad marketing killed that product line) I do not see Sammy immediately getting back to fight Apple on the iCamera. A little bit similar to how Nokia had its fingers burned with touch screens, and was thus wary of following Apple and delayed its own touch-screen rivals.

On Apple Watch, come on, Long. Apple still to this day will not reveal how little they sell of the devices. It is a modest accessory market and there is no stand-alone smart watch market. It is a dud. They sold far more than the legitimate market, because they are Apple and they said 'this is the next thing'. It wasn't and isn't. Many who bought Apple Watches stopped wearing them. Very few will bother to buy a replacement. There is no sustainable market. And Apple is quietly ashamed of the attempt and disappointed at the vast development work that in the end, only weakened Apple's reputation as being infallible. Their NEXT iToy will now face the hurdles, of 'what if this turns out to be another Apple Watch'. I now you are an Apple fan, but I am a realist. The Apple Watch damaged Apple in the long run. It was a gamble and it failed. It is not sustainable as a stand-alone product and as an accessory, it won't sustain any of the promised ecosystem. It will wither away. But yeah, it is an iToy for iSheep to wear to proclaim their iLove. Good for Apple that it has a flock of iSheep.

Tomifan - if Apple Watch was any level of a success, we'd have audieted sales numbers in Apple Quarterly results and Apple Watch would be set off as its own business unit. It is not a success, it is a failed experiment, but Tim Cook cannot accept the market judgement of his first 'non Steve Jobs' product being 'a failure' so they keep giving us bullshit non-facts and sustain the illusion that there is something there. It is a failed tech launch. Apple Watch is not sustainable when its ecosystem has died. It is the same as Windows on mobile phones. Or same as iPad as a publishing platform. An illusion. But feel free to believe in it. I am sure you are proudly wearing your Apple Watch everywhere?

Per - agree that Apple now 'needs' a 'new iPhone' (more realistically, they'd be happy if they found a 'new iPad').

Winter - Autonomous cars possibly but I really don't think society is ready yet for them. With that, its not a bad thing to be researching the area and not 'burn' your concepts by launching it too early (think Newton or Lisa in Apple history). Apple has become very good at launching its products 'at the right time' or perhaps, 'a little bit late' to the market (see phablet iPhone models haha). But not 'too late'. In that way, Apple can both take its time to get their model 'perfected' - as Apple buyers want perfection from the first unit - and to avoid many technology 'cul-de-sacs' such as haha, 3D screen TV sets for example or the stand-alone GPS mapping market (TomTom etc). So Apple might well be a major player in the autonomous car market, at some point in the future, and whatever R&D they now do in that space, is not 'wasted'.

(more comments coming)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Mats, Tester

Mats - Great point about the 'pocket magnifying glass' side of the phone. Most premium phones today have some degree of macro ability and this is indeed very useful to magnify for example 'small print' in some documents or packaging. Now if the iCamera had a 'microscope' ability - just modest 'magnifying glass' ability but just a bit beyond what current smartphones can do with their macro setting - then this would be another 'wow only Apple would do this' kind of 'magic'. The macro setting is something most consumers are not aware of. Imagine a simple icon of 'magnifying glass' somewhere very easy to find, either at the camera or near the top of the main menu - and then give the large screen size of the iCamera the effect of a very powerful magnifying glass (=modest microscope). And now add this to the marketing presentation by Tim Cook - oh, and we have '10x microscope' or whatever is that 'power' haha... This would SEEM like Apple invented a new feature (haha like Retina Display seemed like Apple invented sharp pocket screens).

Tester - on home automatics (domotica) yeah, another area with potential. But like cars, also homes NUMBER far less and their annual sales are far less (replaced far less frequently, ie we change homes far less frequently than we replace phones). The major home repairs work like a kitchen renovation would happen in an existing home far less frequently than once every 10 years, perhaps a single kitchen device like fridge, oven or microwave might be replaced every 12-15 years haha, but whole kitchen? Rarely. And the whole home 'rewiring for intelligent home' haha, I would say that will rarely happen in existing homes, it would mostly happen in new-build homes that were then very 'green' and intelligent and have solar panels on roofs and all that jazz. Not exactly a mass market here. Trivially small compared to videogaming console sales or digital camera sales, which are far smaller than total annual TV sales or PC sales (or tablet sales), which are far smaller than smartphone sales levels.

BUT with domotica, yes, Apple could be the boost to launch that market (similar to how the iPad accelerated the very sleepy tablet market) but the danger is, that with all R&D work and marketing push, it could become the 'second Apple Watch' and in worst case, another Newton - which is a FAR bigger risk now for the 'next iToy' after how much Apple Watch fizzled. Apple kind of 'needs a sure thing' now. With 'definite' timing and market success (which is why... iCamera)

On 'somewhat complacent' and 'vulnerable' yes. This is the danger. There is the worse effect of Tim Cook, there is no Steve Jobs even alive to ever come and 'rescue' Apple again. So if Tim Cook can't 'deliver' on 'the next iPhone' and if the overall Apple 'growth' turns to stagnation - then the narrative becomes 'Tim Cook is slowly destroying Apple' and 'Apple has lost its magic'.

Back to existing opportunities. What else is there? The home doesn't have scale. Cars? Its too early. Then what? Home videogaming consoles? Need the games catalog. TV's? I don't see TV's as the big opportunity but it could be. Cameras? Are ripe for Apple. Look at how big a buzz the GoPro camera concept got for a while. There is space in the camera market and we all know cameras will eventually all be connected, so Apple kind of 'owns' the end-state of this evolution. But back to options? What else is there? VR glasses like Oculus, haha, that is not even a proven market yet, of ANY size. Drones?

If we accept that Apple 'needs another iPhone' and if we add, that Apple should not fail on its next iToy (even to the degree we cannot yet agree if Apple Watch is actually a failure, or is just a poorly-performing product) - then I would argue that the digital camera space is the 'easiest and most safe' space where Apple can get tens of millions in annual sales, and sell devices that cost $1,200 to $1,500 and would GROW the iOS user base (which Apple Watch cannot do, because it is only an iPhone accessory so you need an iPhone to even get the utility out of the AW).

(more coming)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Tester

On the comment 'your enthusiasm on cameras is clouding the issue' - this is quite possible. I obviously am a camera geek and love cameras, have done so for decades before the first digital camera, and have owned a lot of camera gear in my lifetime. I am by no means the typical mass market consumer when it comes to cameras, and I may well be imagining more to this out of my own desire than really exists. That is all true. But similarly, those designers of the Range Rover, who felt a passion to use a 'military style' jeep/Land Rover for their farms and hunting etc - and then used their passions to develop the consumer version of the Land Rover - to be a car, that also was 4-wheel-drive and had that SUV form factor - that DID require passion haha.

I am obviously arguing on behalf of my idea and hoping those at Apple who read this blog, will be convinced to explore these dimensions. I am certain there have been concepts developed in the direction of the iCamera, in particular, after the Nokia N93, the Nokia 808 Pureview, and the Samsung Galaxy Zoom series. Where Apple management has looked at the competition, and thought - should we do that kind of product and is there a market?

The big issue was, that ALL American 'experts' were pooh-poohing the smartphone cameraphone market as a toy that was not viable and would 'never' challenge the stand-alone camera market. This is EXACTLY the same arguments we had with smartphones vs PDAs, musicphones vs stand-alone music players like iPod, and so forth. We've seen this film a million times. So earlier (N93, 808, K Zoom) when Apple HQ management consulted with various (internal/external) sources & experts, they would find a lot of 'analysis' and expert opinion - that the CAMERAPHONE market was not viable. That a stand-alone camera market would sustain itself and 'no serious camera user' would ever use a smartphone camera. This is why systematically American-made phones had the worst cameras and Asian phones (and earlier Nokia) had the best cameras (because Asian market was not confused by this misconception).

I think the TIMING for iCamera market evaluation now, 2017, is similar to how Apple evaluated the iPod-phone market in 2005. While earlier analysis suggested an alternate path (iPod is invincible) suddenly a 'musicphone' market was viable - and potentially bigger than music players. Where now today (American) analysts had previously promised a sustainable camera market, they have changed their tunes - and THAT should wake up the 'complacent' Apple top management, that wait, what about the iCamera concept...

Separate issue is the rival option of the Apple Watch. Obviously Steve Jobs did not believe in an iWatch and only after he was gone, Jony Ive (a watch fanatic) was able to get his pet project approved and developed. And we saw how that went. So three years ago when I was writing about the iCamera, Apple obviously had its 'pet' project well under way, the Apple Watch, that was also the long-term passion of Apple's head designer. So if my analysis is true that the iCamera has a bigger actual market opportunity than the Apple Watch (and thus would be somewhere in iPad territory of a sustainable separate business unit for Apple) then today there is no more a rival tech project to block the full attention to the iCamera. I get it that Apple tried the iWatch. Jony believed in it, there was plenty of history that if anyone could revive a dead market, that was Apple and that possibly some 'killer' uses for a Dick Tracy watch could be created. That all turned out to be false.

BUT there IS a market for digital cameras that is huge and the opporunity to make profits there is big, and the EVOLUTION of that market is towards smartphones, where Apple now has all the competence it could ever hope for.

I do agree that the camera segment has vastly wider range of price points vs iPod original music player market - but then the camera market of today is not unlike the originla mobile PHONE market of 2007 when phones FAR cheaper than original iPhone - and phones FAR more expensive than original iPhone - were available, by a range of manufacturers FAR FAR more than total camera makers today. So those aspects of the market that you feel would 'hinder' Apple if compared to iPod - Apple overcame those very same issues a decade ago with the iPhone.

But I do agree, 'no amount of revolutonary new camera tech' is there to provide GENUINE gains for competitive advantage in a camera. That never stopped Apple before. Apple didn't invent the mouse, it stole the tech. Apple didn't invent digital storage for iPod, they just put more of it into a player. Apple didn't invent the touch screen for smartphones, etc etc etc. What Apple is GOOD at, is convincing its iChurch, that somehow Apple invents something or creates something that never existed before (haha Retina Display, Apple Pay).

BUT compare to the stand-alone pocket camera. The cellular connection ie SIM card. HERE is the killer app. Instagram, Facebook, Flickr etc. HERE is why a 'connected camera' (And I do not mean WiFi connected, I mean truly omnipresent 3G/4G/5G cellular connected) will win (the mass market). And then Canon/Olympus/Nikon/Panasonic etc have ZERO chance in that game, because they only retail in camera shops, but Apple retails via the global mobile operator distribution channel. A rival from Samsung/Huawei/LG/Sony etc 'might' be able to match Apple iCamera in DISTRIBUTION but the traditional camera makers are utterly crushed in this contest. Apple did NOT have this advantage with the original iPod or even the original iPhone (or iPad or Apple Watch). But Apple has built this advantage with the iPhone - and now, if they get the carriers to 'treat the iCamera as a premium smartphone' - they would have the most powerful distribution channel (this side of Samsung) at their disposal.... MASSIVE MASSIVE competitive advantage that crushes the hopes of any 'technically better' pure camera-with-SIM-card option from a major camera brand, that they might launch in response to the iCamera.

So Tester, I appreciate the argument, but to me, it really sounds like the same that said in 2006 that no way can Apple do an iPod-phone, because anyone who wants a music player with all the music already have the iPod (and its clones).

I think there is a GROWING market for a 'better' camera in the pocket. See the dual camera models now populating the top end of flagships. People DO want more, but they don't exactly know 'what they want' haha. If an iCamera came and said 'this is what you want' then yes, many regular people would not understand and would say - that is too expensive. BUT 'anyone' who is getting 'serious' about cameras, and has visited the camera store - will DROOL over the iCamera - and say 'yes, that is EXACTLY' what I want - even if the first edition iCamera was just an 'experiment' of the form factor. It would then evolve - not unlike how the Range Rover also evolved (a lot, I drove the original version which was pretty much like driving a truck, compared to any car).

But I do appreciate (seriously, a lot) the point, that I may be blinded by my love of this idea and hoping Apple made this type of device (much as I loved the previous top cameraphones from Nokia and Samsung). I may well be blinded. It is therefore very good that we are having this discussion, and we can explore, are my points sustainable, can I defend them against those who doubt this concept.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi James

First on bulk and selling well. That does seem to be the case. I was NOT the case back when Nokia made top cameraphones (before Elop). Then even in the first years of the iPhone, there was a big addressable market for camera-optimized smartphones. The Nokia 808 Pureview was the natural evolution of that path (and the Lumia 1020 etc) but because of the idiot CEO destroying the company and all of Symbian market, the 808 Pureview did not achieve the same levels as say the Nokia N8 of 2010 which had leading camera specs of any phone at that time (12mp, Xenon flash, HDMI-out etc). It may be true, that the market honestly 'spoke' and consumers got fed up with phones with great cameras. The 808 Pureview, Nokia Lumia 1020 and Samsung Galaxy K Zoom all suggest this is the case. But I would argue, that those 3 phone models were destroyed by bad marketing, not a form factor that is not sustainable - because DEFINITELY in the case of 808 PV, 1020 and K Zoom, the two manufacturers utterly messed up the marketing of the devices.

It is possible that INSPITE of the bad marketing, the 'bulky phone with great camera' is dead. That is definitely possible and we won't know for sure, until some top 3 manufacturer makes the serious effort to capture or re-create this market segment. But the failure of 808 PV, Lumia 1020 and K Zoom were at least PARTIALLY if not totally due to the bad marketing involved with those phones.

This gives me my other favorite marketing 'lesson'. That of convertible cars. Convertible cars ie cars who have roofs that can be taken down were popular up to the 1960s and early 1970s. Then the series of oil crises of the 1970s caused 'sports' cars to dramatically dimish as a market. At the same time safety concerns grew, and open-top cars were found to be more dangerous if the car was in an accident that caused it to turn upside-down. Car makers put in less powerful engines into their cars and the total market for sports cars shrunk, and the convertible option nearly disappeared. All the major American makers like the Ford Mustang etc stopped their convertible versions. Similarly many European car-makers quit their open top versions of the cars.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the market for open-top cars seemed to end. And luckily, one brave car-maker decided to explore the forgotten market of convertible cars - Saab - and all at once, many buyers said - I LOVE this and I want this - and then we got the Chrysler LeBaron convertible and on and on, soon BMW and Audi and Honda returned to making convertibles again, and a significant (while niche) market was resurrected.

I see THIS as the pattern for the camera-optimized smartphone. It will not be the bestselling type of handset form factor, but there is a passionate user base who WILL PAY EXTRA for this functionality, and the market for it is FAR FAR bigger than Apple Watch. It is RIPE for an iRevolution - an 'Apple way'. Especially as Apple can point to past 'masters' ie Nokia, Sony, Samsung - having 'failed' in this - then what better than for Apple to come with an iMiracle device that proves all those other 'big brands' were fools to mess up such an obvious market.

Now on 'Apple cares about photography' ha ha ha. Apple has NEVER cared one iota about the camera quality on its phones. Apple iPhones have at EVERY generation had the worst crap camera gear - mated with great Apple software. At EVERY GENERATION Apple iPhones have had crap. Worst pixel count at every generation. Early iPhones didn't even do video recording. Apple resisted the need of the selfie camera, and then kept the quality of the selfie camera equally bad. They resisted the introduction of a flash to the iPhone. They were late with good quality on every aspect, from video quality to autofocus to image stabilization. Apple has been LATE on EVERY mechanical/technical aspect of the camera unit - still today using cheapest no-name plastic parts for its cameras. That you say 'cameras have been so good' tells us you are brainwashed by Apple - or you are here to promote a bullshit Apple propaganda position. So I am here to correct you. TECHNICALLY on the merits of the camera, the iPhone is pure crap, has always been, and still is today. Apple is RESISTING every step to improve its cameras and is LAST to deploy ANY major tech steps to its CAMERA.

That said, Apple iPhones take great pictures for 3 good reasons. First, the Apple owners are passionate and often artists in the creative space (ie photographers, advertising creative people, etc). They see a great picture and could make a good picture with a Kodak box camera. Secondly, the iPhone has great SOFTWARE to fix problems (low light etc). And thirdly Photoshop. Many of the best iPhone-pictures are professionally edited and fixed, by yes, creative artists...

TECHNICALLY the iPhone has NEVER led the global smartphone industry in the camera tech side. NEVER. And remember, consider global market, not only that available on subsidised contracts in the USA, which is nowhere near the best of handsets available worldwide.

Now on the DSLR mirrorless market. I agree, there is potential there. That however, would be a TINY market. It is at best 5 million to 10 million cameras sold per year, with users who are already 'committed' to a series of LENSES on a tech family, so Apple would fight enormous entrenched interests in a truly trivially-small market size. And Apple's distribution is not set in the camera industry either. So growth would be slow and painful.

That said - a replacable optics/other components side as accessories to the iCamera COULD be a path. I'd put this as the iCamera Pro device costing say $1,500 and sold in 2019, as the 'upgrade' from base iCamera. If Apple first establish a presence (dominant presence) in the camera sector - and THEN do the full optics/accessories type of premium camera, that would be additional market space for Apple to pursue. However, Apple never went for that type of top-end niches. In gaming PCs, Apple never did a high-performance Mac to try to take gaming users (far less, haha work station minicomputers). With the iPhone, Apple never tried to take the extreme luxury end of Vertu etc price points. Apple does want scale and to keep one standard product that they can sell in large volumes, rather than a splintered product line attempting every ever-tinier niche. I think the DSLR/pro/semi-pro camera user segment is too small for Apple to bother with.

(but I'd love to see that device)

On external flash system. I believe this is technically essentially impossible. Perhaps a high-power LED flashgun could be created but what you really do need is Xenon flash ('real flash') and for that, you have to have a shutter on the camera sensor (see my camera tech blog for details). And adding a mechanical shutter adds THICKNESS to the camera element - which is already the thickest mechanical build unit on an iPhone. It means that any added thickness to the camera unit results in added thickness to the actual iPhone itself. I don't think this will happen. But so you know, again, the various Nokia/Samsung etc other 'serious' cameraphones that had Xenon flash units - obviously could have their flash units slaved to a pro flashgun (I've done that lotsa times) so again, Apple lags technically where leaders have gone for a decade by now. Apple won't give you a mechanical shutter (and thus cannot do real Xenon flash) on an iPhone. They do LED 'flash' which is a typical cheap compromise. Once again, Apple refuses to put serious camera tech on a phone.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Piot

Again, I truly do appreciate your (total) distrust of this concept. You also point out to areas where I was asking for something that we never got on the iPhone (physical keypad for iPhone) or another camera idea for Nokia (short range digital imaging so you can easily copy photographs or yes, digitize business cards). Just because these ideas were not done, does not 'prove' that they were bad - you cannot prove a negative. They could have been big - just a few weeks ago I was assisting a relative copy some pictures and I taught her to take digital pictures of physical old photos as the quick way to make copies (rather than reserving time at the library to use their scanner)

But have I been CORRECT, Piot? Have I been PROVEN correct on what Apple could do with the iPhone? I said Apple needs to add MMS support (who else said that?) that Apple needs to add video recording (most comments on THIS blog said that was stupid). Apple needed a bigger sensor than its 2mp sensor or its 3mp sensor or its 5mp or its 8mp - when I said that, ALWAYS there were Apple fans (perhaps you too, Piot) who said that was silly, such cameras were not ever going to work, Apple had enough megapixels, nobody uses the camera anyway, etc.

But seriously. SRSLY ? I identified EXACTLY the point in time when the iPod-phone (ie iPhone) was VIABLE. We found out later, that Apple came to EXACT SAME conclusion AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME. I identified when the 'nano' low cost parallel market for the iPhone was viable - and INSISTING that this is what Apple not only has to do, it WILL DO. (and Apple was late to take to that market, and also did it poorly). Then I was identifying the timing for the PHABLET market - insisting that this is not only something Apple HAS to do, it is something Apple WILL do. And I was the first to calculate the MARKET OPPORTUNITY above the then-current top-end price point for iPhones, suggesting there is 'space' for a $1,000 price iPhone - which we are now about to see.

Piot, SERIOUSLY, can you point us to ANY other 'Apple expert' who made those calls before they happened? Anyone? Anyone, Piot? Anyone?

You point to two technical requests I made, that were not deployed by Apple or Nokia - as if they were 'proof' that I am an idiot, but those were never TRIED. What I HAVE done, time and again, and again, and again, is shown areas where Apple HAS to deploy something, and Apple HAS (often reluctantly, and with considerable delay) done EXACTLY as I said - and EVERY TIME it was at least a modest success (low cost iPhones) and mostly huge success (phablets).

Piot? Is my 'track record' for suggesting iPhone evolution 'mostly good' or 'mostly bad'? Serious question.

That said, past performance is no guarantee of future success haha.

And you are right to point out concerns you have. And if my idea has any merit, I should be able to deal with your points. So I will...

So I'll start a second reply to you Piot, as you had a lot of good points once you got to talk about my idea, not my earlier history on this blog :-)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

So more to Piot

I appreciate this paragraph:

"This IS NOT a product that Steve Jobs would make. We know enough about him to say that (if he was still alive) he might want to make the 'best’ camera…. but I don’t think he would cram it with your outrageous specs. And certainly not adding specs simply for ‘marketing' reasons. And one thing we can really be sure of is that he wouldn’t want to produce an ugly or ‘pregnant’ looking product. The product you describe sounds more Frankenstein than Jobs."

A lot of good stuff there. First, the beauty. Jobs would want it to be beautiful desirable gorgeous. And I am CERTAIN that the iCamera from Apple would instantly be the most beautiful desirable POCKET CAMERA ever made. The 'only' direction, from which it could be considered 'ugly' is if your idea is 'iPhone' slab supermodel-thin smartphone. By any OTHER definition, the iCamera would be drop-dead gorgeous tech. It would be made slim and slender enough to be comfortable in a pocket - but it would not be, it could not be as slender as an iPhone. That is why it HAS to have some 'pregnant' bump or the whole body be significantly thicker than a modern iPhone. HAS to be, else it cannot have the optics that a decent camera needs.

I think I made this point already in the original article, but to re-iterate. This will be a GORGEOUS device - when compared against ANY camera by any brand. Instantly desirable, heart-breakingly gorgeous to look and touch and use - as a CAMERA. The ONLY comparison it cannot take, is to be compared against an iPhone - because this HAS to be 'fat'. It is like comparing a VAN to a CAR. You cannot create a flat car-size van. No matter how much you 'squeeze' the minivan from the above, it will be TALLER than a car. It HAS to be. And so too, will the iCamera. It won't be as slim as an iPhone - and this Apple has seen many times and dealt with by MARKETING. The iPod was not a 'portable Mac'. The iPhone was not the iPod-phone. The iPad was not a Mac Tablet. Apple does not want the product compared to previous products (that may be very similar by their technical guts, the iPod is a small specialized PDA ie a small pocket computer and the iPad is a Macbook without the keyboard.. duh).

BUT I agree Steve Jobs was also a minimalist. He would not want to over-cram the device with every conceivable tech. It would be 'just enough'. BUT Jobs was NOT afraid to add amazing new tech to solve technical needs and to be the 'best' product in its class. The original iPhone did NOT NEED to have a full internet browser. All Apple needed was the iPod-music phone! That was their mission. The internet (and video, and camera) were optional and ADDITIONAL tech, that the RIVAL musicphones (non-smartphones, original iPhone of 2007 was not a smartphone) did NOT have, or at least not to that degree. And nobody apart from say a Nokia Communicator, had a screen that massive as the iPhone. IF you did a music-phone - it didn't need ANY screen, or certainly not a big video screen.

Jobs was not against tech, but yes, he was a minimalist. Some of the stuff I imagine is the 'Nokia mindset' of cramming 'everything' into my idea. This would need some Apple-sense to take the very core of what is needed, and strip the nonsense. To REINVENT the pocket camera, not just cram 'more of everything' into it. That is WAY WAY beyond my ability to 'design' that on this blog. I am here to give the impulse and impetus. As you know very well, if I was to review the original iPhone, I would have added the slider-keyboard - and that would have been UTTERLY UNNECESSARY to the actual success that the iPhone was able to achieve. Maybe my way would have sold more - possibly my way would have sold LESS. And definitely, my way would have been both more expensive and more bulky. So the 'Apple way' will need to be applied to my idea.

That is not to take away from where you and I agree, if Steve Jobs were to make a pocket camera, he would have insisted that it is seen as the best in the market, to blow the others away. Like the Lisa, like the Mac, like the Newton, like the iPod, like the iPhone, like the iPad. The new product had to revolutionize its market. Jobs would not do a camera 'only as good as Canon or Nikon has today'.

But on 'adding specs for marketing reasons' haha, no here we disagree. I think Jobs was a master to see exactly what issue could be 'sold' as the marketing bullshit that supposedly gave Apple its technical lead. Look at retina display just as one such gimmick. This is quintessential Steve Jobs. Rather than a larger screen, lets just make our screen the same size but more sharp, and then lets invent a silly marketing name for it, to get everybody talking about it... This is ESSENTIAL Jobs (rather than the bigger expense of a proper larger screen)

I do agree that yes, it is 'ME' who wants this product but am happy that you see, there is also at least some size of a market of other 'camera fools' who would fall for this type of product haha..

I never claimed this was a pro camera. It would fit that same space where Apple often finds its market niches, just above the consumer market, and just below the real pro market.

I also agree this is not a generic consumer camera. The price differential is so huge, at the top end of the smartphone market (on top of it), that you HAVE to justify the cost - but I think I also made the point (perhaps not very clearly) that I did not suggest this would be the bestselling iPhone model, and not intended to be sold to all consumers. Most consumers would find this too technical, too bulky, too expensive and not understand all the specs.

But there IS a BIG market for camera users. Under 100 million new cameras sold PER YEAR. That is FAR FAR FAR more than smart watches haha. This is before we account for those former stand-alone-camera users who have ABANDONED the stand-alone camera market, and make do with their smartphone today. Many of those are still 'shutterbugs' who would LOVE a better camera on their next phone.

But you are ignoring the new-comers the camera market. Who do take pictures or videos, and are now at that level that they start to 'desire' low-light photography capability or a more powerful flash or extra-wide angle or close-up macro ability or a long-range telephoto lens ability. These consumers (mostly in the Emerging World) have NEVER used a stand-alone camera. They would like something better. It is only a SMALL fraction of all smartphone buyers in the emerging world, but is that market 5% or 10% or 20% of all smartphone buyers? I'd love to see some stats - but the point is - that market is GROWING not declining. For most of those users (for whom their phone is the only camera they ever owned) it is still an ADVENTURE into photography - that they becomes shared pictures on Facebook and shared videos on YouTube - and a rapid learning curve - for those who have that creative spark - to want something 'more professional'...

If Apple did the iCamera, there would be the most affluent of this segment, who would buy the iCamera as their next phone. Another slice would buy the iCamera in the second-hand market a few years from now (sustaining VERY high retail value for the early models). And then of course, once Apple sells iCameras in the tens of millions, the Asian clones come in on Android, on Huaweis and Lenovos and LGs and ZTEs and Xiaomis...

While those will not be as good as the first iCameras, they'll be FAR better than current top-end cameraphones, and they will be cheaper than Apple's product. And the whole photography world will be better - except for the pending collapse of the last survivors of the pocket camera market, the Panasonics, Olympusses, etc. A Nikon and Canon probably can survice retreating purely to the pro DSLR end.

Now on Tomimaths, I appreciate that. I am obviously dreaming of this device and I may well be off on my numbers. But remember, I was already calculating markets for lower-cost iPhones, phablet-sized iPhones, and iPhones at prices of $1,000 and all those calculations turned out good, if not great.

That said, my passion may well be clouding my judgment.

But lets say I am off by 50%. Even if Apple got 'only' 15 million annual sales of the iCamera. At an average price of say $1,200 (=$1,199) wouldn't this be a FAR bigger success than the hidden performance of the Apple Watch? The 15 million would come to a good part from current iPhone owners - but not all. If we say only 1 in 3 is a new iPhone buyer (doesn't own an iPhone today) that is 5 million more into the iOS family per year - at the HIGHEST end of the most profitable customers on the planet. These will disproportionately switch to Macs and iPads on their next PC and tablet purchases, once they have become iPhone users on the iCamera. That is at least 2 million more (annual sales) of Macs and iPads. We're adding nearly 10 million devices of sales to NEW CUSTOMERS who do not currently own iProducts, per year. That is before we consider the ecosystem of iCamera apps via the App Store and the 30% Apple Tax that comes that way to Apple's pockets.

If we take just half of the numbers, wouldn't you accept that at that level this would be a significant 'success' product in the class of the iPad, rather than a fizzle like the Apple Watch, selling so little that Apple is afraid to even publicize those numbers?

I am not saying this will match iPhone performance, but this would be a HUGE boost to the iOS family. More so than any other conceivable digital iToy today.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

James Glu

I fail to understand why you take analyst estimates on phone sales but you won't for Apple Watch sales (30 million units, revenues 2nd in the world).

I also don't understand folks deriding the Newton. It was just early to the market that we are all so in love with right now. And the ARM processor that Apple funded in partnership for the Newton is running all of mobile today.

Sure it's no iPhone....but nothing else is is by any other company either


@James Glu
"Sure it's no iPhone....but nothing else is is by any other company either"

The Newton was no mobile phone. It was more of an iPod.

IIRC, Apple refused to add mobile connectivity to the Newton while many people asked for it at the time. Why they did not add mobile telephone function I do not know. But at the time it was seen as a blatant failure of vision.



It was better for Apple not to add phone features to Newton. They would have just invented the touch screen phone too early. As a result the other mobile phone manufacturers could have captured the market with products improved with ideas Apple gave them.

Now Apple didn't introduce Newton phone and others had to wait for iPhone before the touch screen revolution happened. That worked much better for Apple.


"Now Apple didn't introduce Newton phone and others had to wait for iPhone before the touch screen revolution happened. That worked much better for Apple."

That sounds as a daft theory. In 1997 Apple nearly went bankrupt. Meanwhile, the phone manufacturers of the time could not build a handheld computer to save their lives.

There were only three "reasonable" explanations: Mobile data bandwidth was inadequate, battery lifetimes were inadequate, the CEO of the time, Sculley, was incompetent. I think all three were in play. Btw, the US lagged the world on mobile by a decade then.



Those may be some of the explanations. However iPhone in 2007 worked much better for Apple. Newton Phone in 1995 would have been copied and because Apple didn't have the cash to really push it, it would have benefited someone else. This is exactly why it sometimes makes sense for companies not to release new inventions as products. Apple may have an idea for a car but if they can't compete against the industry it might make sense not to make a product out of it. The same Apples to televisions and maybe even to the camera product. If the time is not right it makes no sense to introduce a new product for the competition to copy.


"Those may be some of the explanations. However iPhone in 2007 worked much better for Apple. Newton Phone in 1995 would have been copied"

There is a blind spot regarding why the Newton failed and the iPhone succeeded: the UI.

With the Newton, Apple bet on a form of stylus-mediated, handwriting recognition. Did anybody here ever used the Newton or saw it used? I did when it first appeared. The UI was quite cumbersome and felt awkward because of the peculiar kind of handwriting and gestures required to operate the device. To my knowledge, nobody ever attempted to follow the path taken by Apple and improve on its approach: the Newton UI was quickly recognized to be a dead-end. Then, Palm came up with stylus-operated PDAs and associated UI that where considerably more comfortable to use.

For the iPhone, on the other hand, Apple carefully elaborated a UI that was designed to be easy to use -- certainly relying upon the experience accumulated with other touch-capable devices based on resistive displays, and addressing the shortcomings of that technology.

Wireless bandwidth did not become adequate for "full" Internet buffs till 3G; Apple had access to the same batteries as everybody else. And still, from 1996 onwards Nokia was able to develop successful mobile devices that combined phone and PDA (the Communicators). Hence, functionally, Apple could have done it at that time too.

Sculley did not leave good memories; the increasing disorientation in the organization he was leading probably explains why, with the Newton, Apple simply mucked up with a device with over-ambitious aims, going haywire with an unusual but also unusable UI.

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