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Jonathan Ive on How Apple 'Nearly Shelved' the iPhone

Yesterday, we reported on an appearance by Apple design chief Jonathan Ive at the UK Trade & Investment department's Global Business Summit on Creative Services in which he talked a bit about Apple's design philosophy and its focus on making great products rather than simply trying to maximize profits by cutting corners.


The Telegraph has another report on Ive's appearance, highlighting his discussion of how the iPhone was "nearly shelved" as Apple struggled to deal with a number of issues, apparently including a search for a proper proximity sensor that would reliably turn off the device's screen when it was held to the user's face.
"We nearly shelved the phone because we thought there were fundamental problems that we can't solve. With the early prototypes, I held the phone to my ear and my ear [would] dial the number,” he said. “You have to detect all sorts of ear-shapes and chin shapes, skin colour and hairdo...that was one of just many examples where we really thought, perhaps this isn’t going to work.”
Ive's comments on his experience with early iPhone prototype come just as a number of such prototype designs have surfaced in court documents filed as part of a legal battle between Apple and Samsung.

Apple actually began work on a tablet before the iPhone project got underway, with one early tablet prototype from that 2002-2004 period having surfaced just two weeks ago. Apple was working on a phone at the time, but once Jobs realized that Apple could bring the multi-touch interface of the tablet to a phone, the company focused its efforts on the iPhone project and essentially set the tablet project until it was reborn as the iPad.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

27 months ago

... And to this very day the proximity sensor doesn't always work well lol


might be something wrong with your ear
Rating: 47 Votes
27 months ago
Had it not been for Apple, Samsung would still be the underdog mobile phone provider with Nokia, HTC, and RIM dominating the marketplace.
Rating: 44 Votes
27 months ago
And we would have been stuck with this:

Rating: 43 Votes
27 months ago
They should shelve this new stretched 4S design...
Rating: 39 Votes
27 months ago

I could not agree more.

We are going to find out just how gullible the buyers are, when this "new" model is introduced.

Yet even worse, so will Apple. If they sell like I expect they will in massive quantities setting even more sales records, that will validate Apple's choice to foist off this old design, over and over and over again.

It will bolster Apple's ability to continue on the path of dictatorship, profit taking, and trickling out a few new features at each release. Then counting up every little change so they can make a dramatic claim like "200 new features"... :eek:


Wow, more pessimistic people on an iPhone that has YET to be publicly announced. Get off your high horse and wait for the public release before you start making accusations... :rolleyes:
Rating: 28 Votes
27 months ago
Glad they worked through this. :)
Rating: 21 Votes
27 months ago
Thanks Steve.
Rating: 21 Votes
27 months ago

I could not agree more.

We are going to find out just how gullible the buyers are, when this "new" model is introduced.

Yet even worse, so will Apple. If they sell like I expect they will in massive quantities setting even more sales records, that will validate Apple's choice to foist off this old design, over and over and over again.

It will bolster Apple's ability to continue on the path of dictatorship, profit taking, and trickling out a few new features at each release. Then counting up every little change so they can make a dramatic claim like "200 new features"... :eek:


Yup, its the design that sells the iPhone, nothing about how it works, or its ecosystem makes it happen. :rolleyes:
Rating: 17 Votes
27 months ago
Hah. Of all things that could potentially be "unsolvable" in the iPhone who would have guessed proximity sensor?
Rating: 13 Votes
27 months ago

And we would have been stuck with this:


Or one of these :

Thumb resize.

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1257891/Samsung_unredacted_trial_brief.pdf
Rating: 12 Votes

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