This is the most fascinating tale of how the first iPhone came about many of you will ever read.
This story Fred Vogelstein provides us with an extraordinary amount of information as to what took place behind the scene. You will learn about how one company bet everything to change the world once again. I do know how it will be for you, but I was moved emotionally about what I read.
Here are several excerpts from the article that stood out for me:
Putting the Company’s future on the line:
The iPhone project was so complex that it occasionally threatened to derail the entire corporation. Many top engineers in the company were being sucked into the project, forcing slowdowns in the timetables of other work. Had the iPhone been a dud or not gotten off the ground at all, Apple would have had no other big products ready to announce for a long time. And worse, according to a top executive on the project, the company’s leading engineers, frustrated by failure, would have left Apple
But as Grignon drove north, he didn’t feel excited. He felt terrified. Most onstage product demonstrations in Silicon Valley are canned. The thinking goes, why let bad Internet or cellphone connections ruin an otherwise good presentation? But Jobs insisted on live presentations. It was one of the things that made them so captivating. Part of his legend was that noticeable product-demo glitches almost never happened. But for those in the background, like Grignon, few parts of the job caused more stress.
Grignon was the senior manager in charge of all the radios in the iPhone.
“At first it was just really cool to be at rehearsals at all — kind of like a cred badge,” Grignon says. Only a chosen few were allowed to attend. “But it quickly got really uncomfortable. Very rarely did I see him become completely unglued — it happened, but mostly he just looked at you and very directly said in a very loud and stern voice, ‘You are [expletive] up my company,’ or, ‘If we fail, it will be because of you.’ He was just very intense.
Creating Some New:
The impact has been not only economic but also cultural. Apple’s innovations have set off an entire rethinking of how humans interact with machines. It’s not simply that we use our fingers now instead of a mouse. Smartphones, in particular, have become extensions of our brains. They have fundamentally changed the way people receive and process information. Ponder the individual impacts of the book, the newspaper, the telephone, the radio, the tape recorder, the camera, the video camera, the compass, the television, the VCR and the DVD, the personal computer, the cellphone, the video game and the iPod. The smartphone is all those things, and it fits in your pocket. Its technology is changing the way we learn in school, the way doctors treat patients, the way we travel and explore. Entertainment and media are accessed and experienced in entirely new ways.
Many executives and engineers, riding high from their success with the iPod, assumed a phone would be like building a small Macintosh. Instead, Apple designed and built not one but three different early versions of the iPhone in 2005 and 2006. One person who worked on the project thinks Apple then made six fully working prototypes of the device it ultimately sold — each with its own set of hardware, software and design tweaks. Some on the team ended up so burned out that they left the company shortly after the first phone hit store shelves. “It was like the first moon mission,” says Tony Fadell, a key executive on the project. (He started his own company, Nest, in 2010.) “I’m used to a certain level of unknowns in a project, but there were so many new things here that it was just staggering.”
When Jobs started talking about the iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, he said, “This is a day I have been looking forward to for two and a half years.” Then he regaled the audience with myriad tales about why consumers hated their cellphones. Then he solved all their problems — definitively.
As Grignon and others from Apple sat nervously in the audience, Jobs had the iPhone play some music and a movie clip to show off the phone’s beautiful screen. He made a phone call to show off the phone’s reinvented address book and voice mail. He sent a text and an e-mail, showing how easy it was to type on the phone’s touch-screen keyboard. He scrolled through a bunch of photos, showing how simple pinches and spreads of two fingers could make the pictures smaller or bigger. He navigated The New York Times’s and Amazon’s Web sites to show that the iPhone’s Internet browser was as good as the one on his computer. He found a Starbucks with Google Maps — and called the number from the stage — to show how it was impossible to get lost with an iPhone.
By the end, Grignon wasn’t just relieved; he was drunk. He’d brought a flask of Scotch to calm his nerves. “And so there we were in the fifth row or something — engineers, managers, all of us — doing shots of Scotch after every segment of the demo.
Steve Jobs bet his whole company on the iPhone, while others such as Samsung, HTC and Google risk nothing to create competing products. And in the case of Samsung its even worst. The Korean electronic giant is about to surpass Apple in terms of net profit generated this quarter.
If you read the entire article and then compare it with what William Lee, representing Apple at the Appeals Court said in the Apple v. Samsung lawsuit, it beggars believe Samsung can get away with this.
“Apple spent five years and $5 billion designing a product. It was a revolutionary product. It’s hard for most of us to remember what a phone looked like in 2007, but it was revolutionary. Samsung looked at it initially and said “this is easily copied, but we don’t need to because it’s going to be unsuccessful.” Two years later they had a summit and decided to copy it. And they spent three months — three months — copied it and brought it to market. And the result was … you see what happened to the market share (and profit share).”
I don’t want to come across as an Apple fanboy, but the above situation is the main reason why I’m sticking with Apple. It just feels morally right to do so.