Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Jun 2017 21:07 UTC
Apple

The Verge has published a long excerpt from the upcoming book The One Device: The secret history of the iPhone by Motherboard editor Brian Merchant, and there's quite a few interesting details in there. What stands out if you take it all in is that unlike what many seem to think - and unlike the romanticised image Apple tries to maintain - Apple didn't take some singular, targeted, focused stride to "invent" the iPhone.

For example, Phil Schiller wanted a hardware keyboard, and remained stubborn in his conviction:

The iPod phone was losing support. The executives debated which project to pursue, but Phil Schiller, Apple's head of marketing, had an answer: Neither. He wanted a keyboard with hard buttons. The BlackBerry was arguably the first hit smartphone. It had an email client and a tiny hard keyboard. After everyone else, including Fadell, started to agree that multitouch was the way forward, Schiller became the lone holdout.

He "just sat there with his sword out every time, going, 'No, we've got to have a hard keyboard. No. Hard keyboard.' And he wouldn't listen to reason as all of us were like, 'No, this works now, Phil.' And he'd say, 'You gotta have a hard keyboard!'" Fadell says.

In fact, Jobs was incredibly insecure about whether Apple should even pursue a phone at all.

Privately, Jobs had other reservations. One former Apple executive who had daily meetings with Jobs told me that the carrier issue wasn't his biggest hang-up. He was concerned with a lack of focus in the company, and he "wasn't convinced that smartphones were going to be for anyone but the 'pocket protector crowd,' as we used to call them."

The iPhone that would eventually change the industry wasn't a clear vision in Steve Jobs' mind's eye - no, it was the result of hundreds of incredibly smart engineers trying out thousands of different ideas and solutions, and endless arguing with other engineers and management - up to and including Jobs himself - to try and convince them their particular idea was the best one. The iPhone is the result of thousands of little and big arguments, small and huge decisions, eventually leading to one of the most transformative devices in computing history.

Jobs did not invent the iPhone. Apple's management didn't invent the iPhone. The iPhone was invented by hundreds of relatively nameless engineers, who poured years of their lives into it.

And a hundred years from now, nobody will remember their names.

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Same
by raglan on Tue 13th Jun 2017 21:34 UTC
raglan
Member since:
2016-12-27

Kind of like how every invention goes, isn't it ;) The simple story of a lone hero doesn't quite capture the truth

Reply Score: 6

RE: Same
by REM2000 on Wed 14th Jun 2017 07:22 UTC in reply to "Same"
REM2000 Member since:
2006-07-25

was going to say the same thing, i know the lead designer of the BMW during the early 2000's but nothing of the engineers or management who would go on to make the products.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Same
by flanque on Wed 14th Jun 2017 07:23 UTC in reply to "Same"
flanque Member since:
2005-12-15

Very much so.

I'm trying to think.. did Jobs ever say that he himself created the iPhone, or was it "we" or "Apple" did?

Edited 2017-06-14 07:23 UTC

Reply Score: 3

It takes a village
by wocowboy on Tue 13th Jun 2017 21:39 UTC
wocowboy
Member since:
2006-06-01

I don't remember anyone ever saying that Steve Jobs, alone, all by himself, without input from anyone else, no other engineers, software designers, interface designers, no one else's input at all came up with the iPhone. Perhaps I missed something back in 2007, but I am not surprised in the least by the fact that there were hundreds if not thousands of people all working on the project at the same time, sometimes not even knowing what end-product they were working on at all, just a portion of what would become the iPhone. No, I am not surprised at all that all those ideas put on the table eventually jelled into what became what went on the shelves, I only know that what all those people did was indeed transformative, momentous, and world-altering, and I do indeed appreciate each of their efforts, and that does include, Jobs, Schiller, and everyone else at the company.

Edited 2017-06-13 21:40 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Credit
by Alfman on Tue 13th Jun 2017 21:48 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

Thom Holwerda,

The iPhone that would eventually change the industry wasn't a clear vision in Steve Jobs' mind's eye - no, it was the result of hundreds of incredibly smart engineers trying out thousands of different ideas and solutions, and endless arguing with other engineers and management - up to and including Jobs himself - to try and convince them their particular idea was the best one. The iPhone is the result of thousands of little and big arguments, small and huge decisions, eventually leading to one of the most transformative devices in computing history.

Jobs did not invent the iPhone. Apple's management didn't invent the iPhone. The iPhone was invented by hundreds of relatively nameless engineers, who poured years of their lives into it.



It's how the world has worked for a long time; a few celebrity status individuals get both the credit and reward for everything when in fact dozens, hundreds, or even thousands may have been deeply involved too. Some will acknowledge the work of others "this wouldn't have been possible without the dedication of my peers..." or "I am standing on the shoulders of giants", but some people keep all the credit (and financial compensation) for themselves "I'm the best and you don't matter"...I find this attitude horrible, yet we as society accept it and even praise them for it.


And a hundred years from now, nobody will remember their names.



100 years is optimistic, many of them are already forgotten ;)

Edited 2017-06-13 21:55 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: Credit
by unclefester on Wed 14th Jun 2017 02:52 UTC in reply to "Credit"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

And a hundred years from now, nobody will remember their names.



I doubt that Jobs will be remembered either. The 19th century industrialists - Carnegie, Mellon, Vanderbilt etc are now only remembered for their philanthropy.

Edited 2017-06-14 02:53 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Mr. Dee
Member since:
2005-11-13

Whats interesting about the history of the iPhone, this is a project that goes back as far as 2003. I suspect this is after Jobs visit to Gates home and being nagged by a Program Manager about the Tablet PC.

But, the advantage it seems Apple had was the thousands of engineers to perform trials and errors and distraction they were already causing competitors with the iPod. While Microsoft wanted to produce OS X lookalike called Vista, Zune competitor to iPod, Apple was determined, they needed to find another hit.

The surprising part was the amount of convincing Jobs needed before he got religion. Whats important though, if you couldn't sell it to him as a complete story, it probably would not have gotten off the ground in the first place. If you couldn't convince Jobs, then you probably wouldn't be able to convince the rest of the world to part with $600.

The Phill Schiller part sounded so much like him indeed. I heard the story before, but the name was omitted, but hearing this way for the first time, it made sense. It also goes to show, he really shouldn't be making strategic decisions. He probably does get advance access a couple months before a product hits the market, but in regards to product development, I think key people have learned from Jobs procedure, keep him out of the room.

Reply Score: 3

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

The iPhone didn't sell well initially. It was only jailbreaking and Apple being forced to open the App Store that made it a success. (The Mac was also a failure until Aldus Pagemaker and laser printers combined to create desktop publishing - a totally unforseen event.)

In reality the success of the Mac and iPhone were due to unplanned events. In retrospect they look like works of "genius" but in reality the success was mostly luck.

Reply Score: 5

avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

For a major score, you need major luck (among many other factors!)

The iPhone (well, iOS) didn't ship with an AppStore for local running apps. The idea was that all apps should be webapps which explains why Safari (with WebKit) was such a major improvement on mobile browsing when it came out. They took KHTML (and KJS), put their full force behind it and very rapidly evolved it into the defacto rendering engine for everything from Chrome, BlackBerry, Nokia/Tizen, Amazon and others.
It also shows that after this idea turned out not to work for iOS and the AppStore took over, Apple eventually started slowing down Webkit/Safari development until the point where Google decided to fork it into Blink and Safari is now considered the Internet Explorer 6 of this decade (you need to support it, but you really wish you wouldn't have to code for it anymore)

So just like the iPhones hardware was a matter of great debate and adjustment, so was its software.

Reply Score: 3

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Not quite. Internet Explorer (even version 11) is still the IE of this decade, and it's too soon to know where Edge will fall (though I'm not impressed so far). Safari is at least a step up from IE and Edge... for the moment, anyway. Of course, if it keeps stagnating, anything might happen. Who knows, Microsoft might actually give Edge full standards support in the next year and we can all drop IE forever... but I won't hold my breath.

Reply Score: 2

avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

IE (desktop only) is far less used than Safari (a bit of desktop, a lot of mobile) nowadays. If it doesn't work in IE you can tell people "IE is ancient technology, use a more recent browser like Chrome/FireFox". If it doesn't work in Safari there isn't really an alternative (on mobile).

Edge is way ahead of Safari from the point of view of a webdeveloper (on par with FireFox and behind Blink/Chrome/Opera). Standard support in Safari was basically stagnant for a few years while others were improving greatly. Only recently (10-10.3) Safari got some fairly decent improvements again but it is still far behind everything else

Source:
https://html5test.com/results/desktop.html
https://html5test.com/results/mobile.html
(and frustration by everyone around me ;) )

Reply Score: 2

feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

I don't necessarily understand what was unplanned?
Isn't product development is based on a continuous feedback loop?
They see that the desktop metaphor looks useful, OK, they develop a product(Lisa). They see that is too expensive and slow, so they get it out cheaper(Mac), but it has not enough RAM and the first version of the OS slow and clunky, so they add RAM, improve OS, and some other exensions(Mac512k). Now they see the product is better and they have additional developments in place (LaserWriter, PostScript licensing, AppleTalk).

Planning in business does not mean that you figure out how your product will be used, but you try to figure out what can be useful for your consumers. Apple time to time was very successful in that.

Luck is limited, it is more important how you respond to it. Apple could have abandoned the desktop metaphore after the first failure, they decided to improve it instead.

Regarding the jailbreak thing, first the product was good. It had a really good touch screen with really good software, so there was interest to do more with it. Also, is there any info what percentage of iphones were jailbreaked in the beginning?

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Vista was an OS-X look alike? Huh? I'm fairly certain that Microsoft was trying to slow down or stop the OS X switching, but they were not ripping off OS X. Zune, sure ipod wannabe. And during this time MS was doing nothing with mobile or tablets. It out palm'd palm and pretty much stopped.

Reply Score: 2

Sounds just like...
by bryanv on Wed 14th Jun 2017 00:37 UTC
bryanv
Member since:
2005-08-26

The Edison Labs back in the day.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Sounds just like...
by unclefester on Wed 14th Jun 2017 10:42 UTC in reply to "Sounds just like..."
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Apple is an updated version of Edison's idea factory. The engineers did all the work and the Boss took all the credit. In practice neither Edison nor Jobs did much creative work themselves.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Sounds just like...
by bryanv on Wed 14th Jun 2017 16:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Sounds just like..."
bryanv Member since:
2005-08-26

But they knew how to turn ideas into a product, and market the **** out of it.

Reply Score: 2

you need a pivot
by feamatar on Wed 14th Jun 2017 08:27 UTC
feamatar
Member since:
2014-02-25

My opinion is, that if you put hundreds of relatively nameless engineers into a room, they won't invent the iPhone. You need leaders who can nurture and push your engineers in the right direction. That's why we remember chief engineers. Same for company leaders, if there is no Jobs, there is no iPhone, even if you have the same engineers working at the same place.

Just like with Elon Musk, he has a vision, but he is not an inventor, in the mythical sense that he is painted. People want to see Tony Starks, both good scientists and good leaders. But in reality at most companies these are 2 different persons.

Reply Score: 5

RE: you need a pivot
by unclefester on Wed 14th Jun 2017 11:21 UTC in reply to "you need a pivot"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Genghis Khan said you can only win if your enemy loses. Jobs had more than than his share of incompetent enemies. If Commodore hadn't imploded or MS being slapped with an antitrust lawsuit Jobs would have been an obscure footnote in computer history.

People forget that most Apple products have been failures - interspersed with a handful of mega succeses.

The Mac and iPhone both sold poorly when launched. They succeeded because outsiders created desktop publishing and jailbreaking. Jobs deserves no credit for being lucky.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: you need a pivot
by feamatar on Wed 14th Jun 2017 12:00 UTC in reply to "RE: you need a pivot"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

Jobs was not only lucky. At the right time he made the right decisions. And yeah, he had plenty of bad decisions too.

The Genghis Khan part is wrong. Your enemy can win, but still lose in the end. See Napoleon's Russian Campaign and US's Vietnam.

Also Clausewitz goes into more detail in the role of luck on the battlefield, and how a general can be assessed.

Reply Score: 2

RE: you need a pivot
by Alfman on Wed 14th Jun 2017 19:59 UTC in reply to "you need a pivot"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

feamatar,

My opinion is, that if you put hundreds of relatively nameless engineers into a room, they won't invent the iPhone. You need leaders who can nurture and push your engineers in the right direction. That's why we remember chief engineers. Same for company leaders, if there is no Jobs, there is no iPhone, even if you have the same engineers working at the same place.



It doesn't always work that way unfortunately, some people do get ahead by stepping on the team players who were actually responsible. It's happened to me when I came up with an idea, built the entire prototype, built the finished product along side another employee...I was taken aback when someone else who had not materially participated on the project was promoted for it. I stayed on a while longer, but the company kept filling positions above all of the CS guys with outside project managers. I tell ya it was a painful time in my career when I realized that my skills would only get me so far without playing the politics and even throwing others under the bus to get higher. I think ethical people will face self-imposed barriers that hold them back, whereas unethical people will just take advantage of our selflessness.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by CATs
by CATs on Wed 14th Jun 2017 08:52 UTC
CATs
Member since:
2017-06-09

A hundred years from now, nobody will remember Jobs' name, either.

Reply Score: 1

to be honest
by yoshi314@gmail.com on Wed 14th Jun 2017 09:18 UTC
yoshi314@gmail.com
Member since:
2009-12-14

nobody knows their names even today.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Wed 14th Jun 2017 10:52 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

Jobs did not invent the iPhone. Apple's management didn't invent the iPhone. The iPhone was invented by hundreds of relatively nameless engineers, who poured years of their lives into it.


On the other hand, Apple's management gave those engineers room to innovate and stepped in to make decisions when necessary instead of taking the easy route of doing an exercise in applied combinatorics (I am looking at you Nokia) or an exercise in making a phone that is a cost-cut version of the phones established brand made (I am looking at you pre-Galaxy Samsung), and I think they should receive credit for it.

But yeah, the leader takes most of the credit, good or bad, that's the human race for you.

Edited 2017-06-14 10:54 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by kurkosdr
by Carewolf on Wed 14th Jun 2017 11:30 UTC in reply to "Comment by kurkosdr"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

Nokia did give their engineers the needed tools, and they even had products in development and could have delivered. What brought them down was infighting between managers who tried to limit or kill the products of other branches.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Wed 14th Jun 2017 16:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kurkosdr"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

Nokia did give their engineers the needed tools, and they even had products in development and could have delivered. What brought them down was infighting between managers who tried to limit or kill the products of other branches.


Aka, dumb managers without vision launching overlapping projects while other areas suffer.

Apple management should take the credit of not being like this, and having a vision AND the desire to step in and make decisions when decisions had to be made.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by kurkosdr
by unclefester on Wed 14th Jun 2017 11:34 UTC in reply to "Comment by kurkosdr"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

LG launched the Chocolate just before the iPhone. There would hve been plenty of other "iPhones" on the market very quickly without Jobs.

If you look at technology there are nearly always competing ideas an products at the same time. Edison and Lumiere developed cinematography simulataneuosly. The British and Germans developed almost identical jet engines in isolation. Even Newton and Leibniz simultaneoualy and independently developed calculus.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Wed 14th Jun 2017 16:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kurkosdr"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

LG launched the Chocolate just before the iPhone. There would hve been plenty of other "iPhones" on the market very quickly without Jobs.

If you look at technology there are nearly always competing ideas an products at the same time. Edison and Lumiere developed cinematography simulataneuosly. The British and Germans developed almost identical jet engines in isolation. Even Newton and Leibniz simultaneoualy and independently developed calculus.


Did the LG Chocolate have a browser that didn't feel like a proof-of-concept aka exercise in frustration? Because that was the real benefit of the iPhone 1st. Oh, and a music player that delivered sound of adequate quality even in VBR MP3s and with an interface that didn't feel like something a developer threw together the last moment.

The Koreans are strong on hardware, but pre-Android, their software, especially their browsers, and their music players, were atrocious.

Edited 2017-06-14 16:48 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by kurkosdr
by Sidux on Thu 15th Jun 2017 10:05 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr"
Sidux Member since:
2015-03-10

It did work decent enough for people to buy them.
Apple didn't just come up with the iPhone.
It mixed most of their services they had at that time into a single device.
That was the main selling point for them. Opening up the App Store just let in hordes of developers seeing a proper way to distribute their apps.

Reply Score: 1

Editor vs creator/inventor
by Alki1 on Wed 14th Jun 2017 14:52 UTC
Alki1
Member since:
2017-06-14

To me, Steve Jobs was not an inventor, but he was a great editor of ideas that his team came up with.

Reply Score: 2

I have to admit
by darknexus on Wed 14th Jun 2017 19:05 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

I still agree with Schiller, to this day. I want my keyboard back!

Reply Score: 2

The Right Stuff.
by dionicio on Wed 14th Jun 2017 20:52 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

"And a hundred years from now, nobody will remember their names."

That's how things worth inheriting the future happen. But YES, for it to happen, You need the Right Teams, Administrations, Leaders. The Right Stuff.

Not to forget the iPhone being a composite of similar efforts, local and abroad.

Reply Score: 2

a true story
by unclefester on Thu 15th Jun 2017 07:59 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

Recently one of my mates told me a story. He is an extremly sucesful funds manager. Early in his investing career he thought he made a huge amount of money because he was brilliant. Later he realised his success was simply due to the fact that most other investors were totally incompetent.

Reply Score: 2

RE: a true story
by dionicio on Thu 15th Jun 2017 15:59 UTC in reply to "a true story"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

I don't read financial indexes. Those say nothing about future.

Reply Score: 2