Skip to main content

Phil Schiller tells how iPad had to wait for iPhone maturity to get attention

Original iPad
Original iPad (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Steve Jobs introduced iPad in 2010.
  • It arrived three years after iPhone.
  • And it was only developed once iPhone was mature.

We've known for years that Apple's work on a tablet device ultimately led it to create iPhone, but Apple's retail chief Phil Schiller has explained exactly how that came about in an interview with the New York Times.

According to Schiller, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 the plan was to produce a "future computer" that could be sold for less than $500. That ultimately turned into iPad, but not before iPhone borrowed the multitouch technology that we all take for granted today.

The project started being about, "O.K., what is a future computer device that can be under $500, that is something we'd be proud of, that has Apple quality and an experience we'd love?" Very quickly, the team and Steve came to, "Well, if we're going to get to a price point like that, we need to remove things aggressively." [...]And so the team started working on multitouch technology. During that process, a human interface designer, Bas Ording, showed us this demo where he pretended to scroll and the whole screen moved up and down with realistic physics. It was one of those "holy crap" moments.

And once multitouch was shown off, Apple decided to fix an upcoming issue it had identified – phones would eventually eat iPod's lunch. And Apple wanted to be the one leading the charge.

In parallel to all this, iPod had taken off. We knew there was risk that one day a cellphone could play music, that you wouldn't carry two devices, you'd carry one. We wanted to take care of that ourselves and solve that. So we decided we needed to do a phone, a phone that could also replace iPod.

Once iPhone was "up and running" Apple turned its attention back to the tablet project and the rest, as they say, is history.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.