“PhoneBook” or “ThinBook?” - Crossover MacBook Pro Speculation Gains Traction

9466 Back in August I posted a The Road Warrior column fantasizing a bit about the possibility of a convergence or crossover machine synergizing the respective best features of notebook computers and the iPhone. "PhoneBook anyone?" I wrote:

"I have no idea whether Apple has something like this in mind or not, but the new iMac's styling indicates that Apple isn't averse to incorporating iPhone themes into its computer products. I'm pretty confident that there will be a subcompact Apple notebook by the next Macworld Expo, or possibly even in time for the pre-Christmas buying season. A product that could do everything, or at least most of what the iPhone can do, but with a real keyboard, a computer-size display, and more storage capacity should have a ton of appeal I think."

As noted, this notion was off the top of my head and not informed by "insider" sources. However, it seems others are thinking along the same lines.

Macworld UK's Jonny Evans asks rhetorically whether Apple is planning a giant iPhone/MacBook hybrid, citing Citing AppleInsider;s shadowy "sources" who claim that an Apple team has been working on the development of a touch sensitive sub-notebook.- "thin, lightweight and equipped with a 720-x-480 resolution display" to be released in the first half of 2008.

techdigest.tv is calling rumored machine the "Newton 2.0", and says it will be 1.5 times the size of the current iPhone, with a 720x480 resolution screen, and a drag-and-drop interface

And MacsimumNews's Dennis Sellers says"some might question the wisdom in reviving (or re-inventing) the Newton at this stage of the game. However, it’s very possible that Apple isn’t going to position such a device (if, indeed, one is coming) as a PDA but as an “Ultra-Mobile Portable Device” (UMPD). This is a whole new class of 'always-on' Internet-connected products."

Computerworld's Mike Elgan, in an opinion piece entitled "Why Apple's 'new Newton' will rule", says that: "Events in the past 30 days lead me to conclude something unthinkable just one month ago: Apple - yeah, I said it - Apple! will ship the first ever successful small computer. Call it the Newton on Crack (or, more accurately, on Mac)....Two things happened in the Applesphere in September that changed everything. First, of course, is that Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced Sept. 5 the iPod Touch.

"The second is that AppleInsider said this week that Apple is working on an updated Newton MessagePad - basically a big iPod Touch with additional PDA functionality. The Mac OS X Leopard-based mobile minitablet PC will be 1.5 times the size of an iPhone, but with an approximate 720 by 480 high-resolution display. The site estimates that the new device will ship in the first half of 2008.....But even if this particular rumor is false, I still believe Apple will dominate this category with another project....It's inevitable that Apple will ship a tablet Mac that works like the iPhone....."

Mac360's Bambi Brannan is predicting "The first Mac that will fit in your hand is due soon," commenting "So where’s the next Mac? Look no further than your iPhone. Now add all the things you really want.... In the computer world, notebooks have become the big sellers, even for Apple.... Your next ultra small Mac won’t be a Mac. It may not be a phone either, but the similarity between the iPhone and a tiny Mac will be remarkable.... What Apple is readying is what you’re already expecting. An ultra small Mac. An iPhone-like device with a much larger screen, built-in WiFi, flash memory, built-in camera, and… here it comes… Mac OS X inside.... The next new Mac will be a bigger iPhone with OS X and everything else inside. It will be a Mac in everything except name."

Personally, I'm inclined to think that we will probably see a new :"ThinBook" subnotebook MacBook Pro first, probably with at least some iPhone-esque thematic nuances, then perhaps the crossover device at a later date. Apple is almost certainly working on something along these lines, as underscored by a patent filing of April 17, 2007 but first published in August that notes: "As a result, connections systems need to be reduced in size to accommodate smaller form factors... For example, a notebook computer may have a highly tapered chassis shape."

It will be fascinating to see whose prognostications are verified, and I'm thinking we probably won't have to wait long.

Charles W. Moore

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Charles, I love it when you talk tiny LOL

There has been, as you and many others have pointed out, a crying need in the marketplace for a superbly designed and executed small-and-light notebook with plenty of memory and battery life, enough storage to handle today’s file demands, and all kinds of built-in communications (bluetooth, wi-fi, WAN), all meeting different mobile situations.

Personally, I’m not looking for a great entertainment box - I travel for business more than pleasure. In fact, many years of travel both domestically and internationally have made my neck and shoulders subject to enough woes that a durable, light-weight and capable notebook would be the answer to some fervent prayers. I have no problem keeping an iPod (or maybe a 2nd generation iPhone) handy for my musical needs.

Surely, the great teams that put together the iMac, the Macbook Pro, the revolutionary iPhone, the iPod, the almost-great iTouch can do better than Sony and Lenovo (tried a fully decked out x61? pretty solid) when it comes to packaging just the system those mobile-dependent folks (like yours truly) are waiting to snap up.

Hi TB;

Yes; I’ve never been able to quite fathom Apple’s semi-indifferent, on-again-off-again address of the subnotebook category. Some have suggested that it is because of the relative difficulty of building solid, reliable small notebooks up to Apple’s customary standards.

I’m not sure that holds much water. The Duo, PowerBook 2400c, and 12” PowerBook are among the most reliable Apple portables.

Here’s hoping....


They are, in my most humble opinion, missing a bet. In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy my slightly underpowered 12” PowerBook - and join you in hoping. Thanks, Charles.


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