Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Mouse vs. Magic Trackpad

July 28, 2010: 8:37 AM ET

You won't take mice away from some users until you pry them from their cold dead hands

Photos: Apple Inc.

I'm old enough to remember the anger and derision with which keyboarders greeted the new-fangled pointing devices Apple (AAPL) introduced to the mass market with the Lisa and the Mac. "There is no evidence," John Dvorak famously wrote in his 1984 review of the Macintosh, "that people want to use these things."

More than 25 years of computer history have provided ample evidence to convince even Dvorak. But with the growing popularity of laptops with trackpads and other built-in cursor controllers, mice by the millions are gathering dust.

Click to enlarge.

Now Apple has come out with a wireless peripheral that offers the last great bastion of mousers -- desktop computer users -- an alternative. And the emotional heat with which some of them have greeted the arrival of Apple's Magic Trackpad ($69) takes me right back to 1984.

To get a feel for what's going on, check out the flame war that broke out Tuesday after Techmeme's MG Siegler had temerity to write Apple's Magic Trackpad Signals The End Of The Mouse Era. "except that it doesn't," writes the first poster, "but hey, it's Tuesday, it's early, and now i think you're insane."

You won't take the mouse away from some of these users until you pry it from their cold dead hands.

Meanwhile, the Magic Trackpad sounds pretty cool in the early hands-ons. It pairs nicely with Apple's BlueTooth keyboard, gives a satisfying physical mouse click (thanks to buttons built into the rubber feet in front) and, after a software update, offers a couple new gesture controls (inertial scrolling, three-finger click-drags).

As a bonus, the new gestures also work on the latest MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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