Former Apple manager tells how the original iPhone was developed, why it went with Gorilla Glass
Former Apple product manager, Bob Brochers, recently gave a lecture to students about how the original iPhone was realized by a small team of engineers that Steve Jobs put together. MacNN went over some of the talking points:
"What's interesting is that the challenge Steve laid out for us when we created the iPhone wasn't to make a touch-screen device that would play apps and do all of this stuff," Borchers told students. "His [charge] was simple. He wanted to create the first phone that people would fall in love with. That's what he told us." [...] "Now if you're an engineer, like I am by training, you're like 'what the heck does that mean?'," he said. "But he was right. The idea was, he wanted to create something that was so instrumental and integrated in peoples' lives that you'd rather leave your wallet at home than your iPhone."
Brochers went on to talk about how Apple's idea of success with the iPhone was initially rooted in a small handful of tightly focused concepts, breaking the rules of the game while paying attention to detail and helping people "think differently" about the way they associate with their smartphones. It wasn't about wiz-bang capabilities of the device like GPS or ground-breaking apps from the App Store, but instead simplicity in design and overall usability and user-experience.
But the hardware and software combination wasn't the only thing they changed about the business. Brochers described how Jobs and his team wanted to setup a different relationship with their customers -- a direct relationship -- instead of allowing the carrier to control the rules.
"[We said] 'no, we don't want to do that,'" Borchers said. "We want to be able to sell the iPhone. We want to be able to talk directly to the customer. That was a big, big change for the industry.”
Another interesting aspect of the discussion was the oft-heard story about Apple making the switch from a plastic touchscreen to a glass display after Jobs confronted the team with his own iPhone screen, scratched by the keys in his pocket. They called up Corning and convinced them to jump back into their abandoned Gorilla Glass efforts shortly before the iPhone was announced -- a great pivot at the last minute. (Interestingly, while Gorilla Glass is a feature now touted by many rival manufacturers and devices, neither Apple nor Corning to this day will confirm its use on the iPhone.)
The discussion was recorded and uploaded to YouTube, however it has since been removed. Overall, it's a great look into how Apple brought the iPhone to the world and ended up changing the way we think about our smartphones.