International Herald Tribune has an article with excerpts from an interview with Steve Jobs. Jobs is asked some questions about potential products:
Q: Will there be an iPhone?
Jobs: “One never knows. We don’t usually discuss products we haven’t announced.”
Q: What do you think of the tablet PC?
Jobs: "We’re not sure the tablet PC will be successful. It’s turned into a notebook that you can write on. Do you want to handwrite all your e-mail? We have all the technology ourselves to do that – we just don’t know whether it will be successful.
Sadly, their link to the International Herald Tribune is dead- I’m sure it would be a fun read now, seven years later.
The iPhone bit made me chuckle, but the last question is far more interesting than the first.
The fundamental problem of designing a device without a physical keyboard is input. The Newtons used handwriting recognition and a virtual keyboard (both used a stylus). Apple pulled the Newton off the shelf in the late 1990s; they already knew that handwriting, when the primary input device, wasn’t successful. Steve and the Cupertino boys are smart- the iPhone uses only a virtual keyboard- no handwriting recognition. I love how these things evolve over time.