CUPERTINO, Cal. – In a surprising move, Apple, Inc. (AAPL) announced today that it would drop its award-winning OS X Touch platform on iPhone and iPod Touch models in favor of its long-dead Newton operating system.
The updated Newton OS, the software used to run Apple’s discontinued MessagePad PDAs during the early and mid ’90s, will be called “iNewton,” according to an Apple press release.
“We believe the Newton OS is, by far, the superior platform, and truly belongs on our Touch-based products,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing, said. “We made a mistake. The mobile OS X was a good platform, but iNewton will blow everyone away.”
Featuring black and white graphics, a green screen, and a new stylus-based input approach, the iNewton OS looks much like the Newton OS it takes its name from. Apple launched the original Newton OS in 1991 with the MessagePad personal digital assistant, and followed up with a 2.0 release with the MessagePad 120 and later models.
The announcement sent Apple stock prices soaring, up $60 to a high of $200 per share as of the market’s closing. Worried investors, distraught over the recent nosedive in Apple share prices, rallied to bump up Apple’s stock to the highest level in the company’s history.
“The doubts about Apple’s ability to innovate are long gone,” said Isaac Naughten, a prominent Wallstreet banker, said after the closing bell Tuesday. “All the complaining about Apple’s walled-garden strategy in terms of development disappeared in an instant.”
Apple discontinued the Newton platform in March 1998, shortly after Steve Jobs took over the role as company CEO.
Now, Apple plans on launching a series of “n”-prefixed products – like “nMac,” “nPod,” and “nPhone” – in deference to the revamped Newton OS.
“We couldn’t call it ‘nNewton,’” Schiller said. “That would just be silly. But everything else gets an update in this new Newton-centric age. And you can call me the ‘nVP’ from now on.”
Apple’s goal of selling 10 million nPhones by year’s end may not take that long, said some Wallstreet analysts. The company may sell 10 million nPhones in April alone. Naughten agreed.
“I feel bad for those left with the old iPhone,” he said. “Because now we’re going to see a record spike in sales and adoption rates of the nPhone device.”
Newton MessagePad fans, a disgruntled but passionate underground community that still uses the defunct Newton platform, celebrated in online discussion forms. The previous Newton OS already featured a full software library, and many Newton developers said creating software to run on the new nPhone will a simple matter of porting.
There is no word yet from Apple on whether the Mac “Leopard” OS will be updated to reflect the n-centric naming scheme, but insiders hinted at a tablet-style Mac that will run the new iNewton software.
Executives at Microsoft, developers of the rival Windows operating system, were said to be baffled by the move.
“We didn’t see this coming,” Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, said in a statement. “But you can count on our next Windows release being monochrome, too.”