Apple PDA: Give Up, Already (11/2/01)

Man, what is it with Taiwanese manufacturing subcontractors and Loose Lips Syndrome? Frankly, we wouldn't mind so much if their leaked info ever turned out to be true, but usually they're just yanking our collective chain. Perhaps you recall a report way back in January of last year which insisted that an Apple-branded Palm OS device was rolling off a Taiwanese assembly line. If that were true, then it's sort of odd that the product hasn't actually shipped yet. Then there was that Alpha Top claim last May just after the iBook unveiling that the company was about to start building Apple even newer iBooks with a "wider screen" and a "variety of colors" come July; Apple actually had to break its "we don't comment on rumors" policy to deny that report to prevent iBook sales from plunging through the floor.

Anyway, the latest bit of faux Apple-related "inside info" apparently originating from a Taiwanese manufacturing concern dredges up the time-honored rumor of an imminent Apple PDA. It seems that the Economic Daily News somehow got the idea that Inventec Corp, a notebook computer manufacturer, had been tapped by Apple to make 600,000 PDAs bearing the Apple brand-- a "fact" which it then dutifully reported to its readers. But faithful viewer JasonBoy notes that a Reuters story quotes Inventec's finance manager as stating that "no one knows anything about winning Apple orders." So luckily, this time the rumor was shot down before we had even first heard about it, which saved us a lot of energy and foaming at the mouth. Rampant speculation about Apple handhelds is fun, but frankly, it's also really draining. (It's the most exhausting activity one can engage in, next to soccer.)

We should probably start stocking up on Gatorade, though, because now that the iPod has proven that Apple in the Second Jobs Dynasty isn't opposed to the handheld form factor per se, we imagine that Apple PDA rumors are going to become fashionable again-- especially since the iPod itself reportedly runs a third-party operating system that was designed to handle PDA-based tasks. But if you want to avoid undue disappointment at future Stevenotes when an Apple-branded PDA fails to surface, it's important to keep in mind that last year, Phil Schiller flat-out stated that "there's nothing going on" regarding handheld development at Apple. And while Steve may have tried to buy both Palm and Handspring in the past, mere months ago he responded to an analyst's question about the PDA market by saying "I'm not sure that's the funnest place to be right now."

Heck, even the Steve Of The Future™ is downplaying the possibility of an Apple handheld. Faithful viewer kirabug dug up a Fortune interview which is mysteriously dated a week from this coming Monday, and in it Steve is quoted as saying, "You can't imagine how many people think we're crazy for not doing a Palm. I won't lie; we thought about that a lot. But I started asking myself, how useful are they, really? How many people at a given meeting show up with one?" So there you have it: expect more Apple "digital hub" devices, but don't expect one of them to be a PDA anytime soon. (That is, unless you feel like it.)

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The above scene was taken from the 11/2/01 episode:

November 2, 2001: Word leaks that a Taiwanese manufacturer is producing 600,000 PDAs for Apple; too bad it's not true. Meanwhile, CNET scrapes together yet another "OS Death Match," this time pitting Mac OS X against Windows XP, and the Justice Department agrees to a "Redmond Justice" settlement that's less of a slap on the wrist than it is a big, sloppy kiss on the... well, you get the idea...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3371: An Andalusian Mac OS X (11/2/01)   During CNET's last two "OS Death Matches," we admit that we were a little flummoxed by the results. After all, CNET isn't exactly known to be the most Mac-friendly media group out there, so while we'd expect any sane and rational entity with an ounce of taste to rate Mac OS 9 over Corel Linux and Mac OS X over Windows 2000, let's just say that CNET surprised us with its final results...

  • 3372: Settlement, Shmettlement (11/2/01)   The fat lady may not be singing, but she's definitely running through her vocal warmups right about now; according to a Reuters article, the Department of Justice has officially announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Microsoft, thus marking the imminent end of the long-running "Redmond Justice" drama...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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