The Apple Newton Community of Users
original users continue to use the Newton. New users are still joining
(including one of the authors of this study - click here).
Remaining (and new) members note the technological superiority of the Newton
over competing devices, supporting themselves with their own patches,
software, and hardware modifications, keeping the product viable in the
absence of Apple assistance. Surprisingly enough, one community forum, the
NewtonTalk listserv is still growing as new converts come into the fold.
With an active trade on eBay and strong word-of-mouth from loyal users, new
consumers are trying and adopting the Newton technology four years after
Apple’s discontinuation. The Newton brand community as whole is healthy,
active and sustaining membership, if not growing in size.
some ways, one might be tempted to think that the Apple Newton brand
community is in a perilous position. The brand has been discontinued, making
service, assistance and applications hard to obtain. This could make the
device difficult to use. Members of the community are burdened with
additional challenges daily, ranging from getting the device to work with
newer desktop operating systems, fending off marketing attempts aimed at
getting them to adopt a newer device and the prodding of friends, family and
colleagues to adopt competing platforms. In addition, the more time that
passes since the Newton was discontinued, the more members that will be lost
to attrition from the natural failure of the device. For example, according
to one source, the backlight on the device is believed to have a half-life
of a couple of years of continuous use, after which it will begin to get
progressively dimmer. Given that no new Newtons are currently being
produced, the supply of working devices decreases. Eventually these
second-hand devices will drop from the market completely as all the existing
devices will break or become unusable, or another device comes along that is
comparable to the Newton’s particular technological attributes.
members of this community are extremely self-aware. They possess a
well-developed understanding of their feelings toward the brand and, for
many, their connection to other users. Members know it isn’t the most
important thing in their lives (not even close), but neither is it trivial.
The amount of effort it takes to keep using a discontinued product pretty
much limits membership to those who are fairly serious about it. Most
importantly, they do not wish to be confused with indiscriminate zealots who
are weird nuts occupying marginal positions. They are aware of the potential
to be characterized in this fashion, and do not wish to be so presented.
users are a varied group, both in their backgrounds and in their
participation in the community surrounding the Newton. Backgrounds are
varied. Age, education, careers, and even years of
experience with the Newton vary quite a lot. Participation in the community
varies. Some are very active. Many decidedly less so. There is a large
numbers of moderate users, who don't create webpages, participate in rumor
discussions or even regularly post to the listserv. This is much like
involvement in a traditional community. Consider a small town of 40,000
people. Identification with and involvement and participation in varies.
Some of the people who live in that town are very strongly devoted to the
community and participate in all manner of civic activities. On the other
hand, there is a segment that only calls the town home because they have to.
This segment may not as strongly identify with the town and their civic
involvement may not extend much beyond voting in local elections (if that).
Then, there is the great majority of those in-between the two extremes.
last modified on April 27, 2004