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May 16th, 2000

[3:00 AM] WWDC News: Phil Schiller Says No Handheld, No How, No Way
by Bryan Chaffin

The San Jose Mercury News has a recap of yesterday's keynote developments from the WWDC, and buried at the bottom of the piece is a comment from Phil Schiller that completely dismisses the idea of an Apple handheld. According to the San Jose Mercury News:

Apple, notoriously tightlipped about its product plans, on Monday called the handheld rumors totally unfounded.

"We are focused on the personal computer space, not the handheld space, and that's that," said Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of worldwide product marketing. "I hate to use these words, but there's nothing going on."

The full article covers the breadth of yesterday's developments, including some analyst commentary and other outside comments. It's a good read, and we recommend it.

The Mac Observer Spin: Well well well. Something definitive from an Apple executive about a handheld. This marks a first. For those curious, handheld rumors started when Apple canceled the Newton and said that the company would be coming up with something more Mac like in the future. Indeed, a new device was cited as why Apple wanted to keep the technologies in house as opposed to allowing the division to spin-off or selling it outright.

About a year later, Steve Jobs was quoted in an interview as saying that he had try to buy Palm from 3-COM, but that 3-COM wouldn't sell. Mr. Jobs talked about how much he admired their approach to the handheld paradigm.

Then at MACWORLD San Francisco, Mr. Jobs introduced some Palm executives by way of saying "we have been working with these guys a lot lately."

All of this has gone to feed the firestorm of rumors during the last 2 and a half years that Apple would indeed be releasing a new handheld. It is good to hear Apple address so persistent a rumor, but it doesn't quite jive with past events. That said, it is almost impossible for Apple to win this kind of scenario in that people, The Mac Observer sometimes included, are often inclined to want to continue believing what they want. In this case, it would probably be better to bury this particular rumor once and for all as an Apple exec has made a definitive statement, a clearly unprecedented move in the Jobs Era 2.0. That's too bad as we believe that many will agree with us that Apple would likely produce the best handheld on the planet at this time.


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