Apple is swimming in cash thanks to its popular products like the Mac line of desktop and laptop computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Of course, there’s iTunes but let us concentrate on the hardware side of things which also truly push the company as gateways for Apple services.
However, Apple could have been given a run for its money if Microsoft only followed on an idea back in 1991 which basically outlined what we now see in smartphones. Yes, Microsoft could have made the first ever smartphone in 1991. That’s two decades ago.
The information comes to light via a very lengthy feature by Men’s Journal on Nathan Myhrvold (pictured), the genius who was once the Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft. He’s actually been described by Bill gates as the smartest man he knows, the publication says.
Talking about his ability to see what the future holds in terms of technology, the features describes this incident:
“He was often pretty damned accurate: In 1991, Myhrvold predicted the emergence of the iPhone down to the smallest detail, describing a ‘digital wallet’ that would consolidate all personal communication — telephone, schedule manager, notepad, contacts, and a library of music and books, all in one. It would record and archive everything you asked it to, he surmised. ‘The cost will not be very high,’ he wrote. ‘It is pretty easy to imagine a $400 to $1,000 retail price.’ Microsoft, however, was too cost conscious and risk averse to execute Myhrvold’s vision. ‘Hey, it was better than predicting the wrong thing,’ Myhrvold says now. ‘Sitting around being bitter all the time, that’s not fun. But Microsoft certainly could have done more about it. One of the greatest things that Apple and Jobs were very good at doing was daring to do the very different thing.’”
Take a look at this photo from Myhrvold provided to Men’s Journal for the article and it’s pretty obvious the device depicted in 1991 is eerily similar to both the interface and the physical appearance of today’s smartphones.
Look at that thing. It has icons depicting the sort of thing you expect to find in a smartphone today, even an app for the weather and GPS. The fact that the drawing has the date September 13, 1994 on it could mean Myrvold actually thought Microsoft could release it three years from when it was conceptualized.
Microsoft surely could have done better.
Images from Nathan Myhrvold via Men’s Journal, Intellectual Ventures.com