"Project Purple" and the pre-history of the iPhone

The single most fascinating aspect of the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung trials continues to be the wealth of historical information they're unearthing about the design and development of the iPhone and iPad. Yesterday, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing. Phil Schiller, and senior vice president of iOS, Scott Forstall, both took the stand and shared an unprecedented look into the events and timelines surrounding the creation of Apple's iPhone and iPad. Bryan Bishop broke down the testimony for The Verge. Here's the timeline:

  • Phil Schiller said the project began with the idea of putting entertainment content on phones. (Because phones back then weren't as good as iPods)
  • In 2003, Apple began working on the tablet that would become the iPad
  • In 2004, they shifted focus from tablet to phone, and the device that would become the iPhone
  • They used a table view as a proof of concept. (We've heard this from Steve Jobs before -- that he was sold on the project after seeing inertial scrolling and the rubber-band physics.)
  • Forstall was only allowed to recruit from within Apple, and couldn't tell anyone what they'd be working on until they were on board. (He could tell them they'd be giving up nights and weekends.)
  • Forstall repeated the Jobs' mantra that they made the phone they themselves wanted to own
  • Of the various "colors", "Project Purple" went ahead as the iPhone project and the building the team took over became the "Purple Dorm", complete with a "The first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club" poster on the door.
  • Forstall had the idea for tap-to-zoom while using early prototypes.
  • Schiller said sales for the original iPhone exceeded expectations.
  • Schiller said sales of subsequent iPhones have been greater than all generations previous.
  • After the iPhone, Apple moved back to the iPad project.
  • Schiller said Apple was going for great design, ease of use, and lust factor with the project.

So, not only have we seen early prototypes of both devices, including the "Project Purple" prototype itself, but we're getting even more information about the timeline and the thinking behind the product development process.

And again, the typically ultra-secretive Apple's willingness to share this information provides tremendous insight into just how genuinely they feel wronged and want to absolutely trounce Samsung in court.

And it's only been the first week.

Source: The Verge

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

"Project Purple" and the pre-history of the iPhone


Forstall also delivered the biggest zinger of the trial:

"I never directed anyone to go and copy something from Samsung.
We wanted to build something great.
There was no reason to look at anything they had done."

- Scott Forstall, 8/3/2012, during testimony

I agree that this testimony is interesting, and from the design side it is of historic importance, but it proves nothing with regard to the case against Samsung. In an act of legal doublespeak worthy of Orwell's 1984, the judge prevented Samsung telling the jury their parallel development story - thus showing how bogus Apple's position is.

So, if Apple care to write and publish the development story of the iPhone and iPad [Something along the lines of Defying Gravity - about the Newton development project] I for one would welcome it. But this case and the well of information it could have provided, has been poisoned at source, along with the entire American legal process, by the events of last week.

It depends who you ask. But if it was blocked to kill Samsung's "parallel development" evidence; then justice is being twisted out of shape. Unfortunately, appealing to the court of public opinion (as Samsung have) could prevent it's use in any appeal, as well. So is this legal incompetence, clever smoke and mirrors, or what?

Like the rest of this case - its as crazy as a box of frogs.

I cannot find it, but Steve Jobs had the idea for a pad type device way before the tecnology was there to create one. It is in the old interviews.