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October 7th, 1999

[11:45 AM] Larry Ellison Offers Hint Of Apple Handheld

In an excellent interview (to which we linked in yesterday's MacOS News Around the Web) by C-Net reporter Melanie Austria Farmer of Larry Ellison, a hint was dropped that appears to support long standing rumors that Apple was planning to release a handheld computer. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, is also a close friend of Steve Jobs and a member of Apple's Board of Directors. M. Ellison is known as a none-too-shy outspoken individual and was an instrumental force behind Steve Jobs's move back to Apple. According to the interview:

C-Net: What's new with Apple Computer? It finally released the iBook, but Apple doesn't have a handheld yet to compete against the PalmPilot or the Windows CE devices. Any word on Apple's future plans?

Larry Ellison: With Steve [Jobs] back, Apple has again become an innovation leader in our industry: Fabulous technologies like the new Apple display technology and fabulous industrial design, fabulous new software announcements. Will Apple do something in handheld? Steve doesn't like to pre-announce things.

My opinion is that Apple is going to be the great digital appliance company. As the appliances become digital, the very coolest digital appliances will come from Apple--the easiest to use, the prettiest to look at, the most successful will come from Apple.

The rest of the interview is also very interesting and we recommend that you read it. Most of it deals with Oracle, but there are a few other Apple tidbits.

The Mac Observer Spin: It's hard to be a figure such as Larry Ellison and not be misinterpreted by the press. That's us. It's also hard to ignore what this very powerful technologist has to say, especially when it comes to Apple. M. Ellison is motivated, aggressive, and doesn't care to much for following other people's expectations.

That said, Mr. Ellison has as much insight as anyone involved with Apple and offers the added bonus of sometimes speaking of things long before M. Jobs does. In this case, by simply indicating M. Jobs does not like to pre-announce things, M. Ellison implies that there is indeed something to pre-announce. His references to digital appliances is also telling. Apple's current product line is not a "digital appliance" product line which would seem to indicate that we have many new products to come out of Apple. It is always possible that M. Ellison's comments are about nothing or even about a product that could evolve into something else. Keep in mind that M. Ellison's early statements about the product that would go on to become the iMac made it sound more like an NC of some sort than the consumer computer that it is.

In this case, there have long been reports that Apple was going to release its own handheld. These reports have revolved around M. Jobs' fascination and respect for the Palm unit from 3-COM's Palm Computing division, though they have also included hints that any handheld would in fact use some version of the MacOS.

To play Devil's Advocate to our own arguments, M. Jobs' has gone on record as saying that Apple's 4 Corners product strategy was now complete.

Still, M. Jobs wants to move Apple in new directions and handhelds are obviously a part of the future. Our bet is that Apple will release a handheld of some sort, but the time frame is certainly unknown.

Oracle - Apple

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