Apple's Jobs probed over Newton reincarnation

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Apple chief executive Steve Jobs was reportedly none too thrilled earlier this year when he sat down for an interview with a reporter who posed a question about the company's skunkworks operation to produce a modern day Newton tablet rather than chat about the MacBook Air.

"At Macworld, when I asked Mr. Jobs about the idea of an iPod Touch in a larger 'Safari Pad' format, he snapped at me, 'I can’t talk about unannounced products,'" writes the New York Times' John Markoff. "Intriguing."

In fact, Markoff claims that Apple's multi-touch technology was conceived as part of a "note-pad" sized project run by the company's then head of Macintosh hardware Tim Bucher, and that it was internally referred to as "Safari Pad." Implementing multi-touch as part of revolutionary cell phone came later, he suggests.

The report by Markoff and reaction by Jobs serve only to bolster claims laid out by AppleInsider last September in its report regarding a modern day reincarnation of the Newton MessagePad, reminiscent of a larger iPod touch, yet far more capable.

In his column in the Times this week, Markoff speculates that the long rumored device may be Apple's answer to Amazon's Kindle eBook reader given Jobs' blatant criticism of the product and its ability to succeed.

"A familiar Jobsian strategy is to denigrate an entire category — he did this with cellphones, for example — before reinventing it with Apple panache," he wrote.

For its part, AppleInsider believes that Apple's ambitions for the project go far and beyond a digital book reader.