The Origins and Development of the iPhone

Wired magazine has a particularly revealing article which details some of the history of the iPhone project within Apple and its unique effect on the wireless industry. With the introduction of the iPhone, manufacturers are racing to produce more phones that appeal directly to consumers rather than to carriers.

Wired manages to get some previously unknown details about the origins of the iPhone project. It began back in 2002, soon after the iPod, when Jobs realized that the convergence of mobile phones and music players would force Apple to get into the mobile phone business.

Apple originally partnered with Motorola which resulted in the ill-fated ROKR iTunes phone, which appeared to be doomed from the start:

Jobs likely knew he had a dud on his hands; consumers, for their part, hated it. The ROKR -- which couldn't download music directly and held only 100 songs -- quickly came to represent everything that was wrong with the US wireless industry, the spawn of a mess of conflicting interests for whom the consumer was an afterthought.

In February 2005, Jobs secretly met with Cingular executives, including Stan Sigman. Jobs presented a three-part message to the execs:

- Apple had the technology to build something truly revolutionary, "light-years ahead of anything else."
- Apple was prepared to consider an exclusive arrangement to get that deal done.
- But Apple was also prepared to buy wireless minutes wholesale and become a de facto carrier itself.

Despite the promises, the iPhone project was a major challenge for Apple, requiring over $150 million in development costs. Apple also took extraordinary measures to keep the project secret, with hardware and software teams completely separated, with only 30 people having seen the full device by the time it debuted at Macworld 2007. The decision to use a modified Mac OS X wasn't immediately obvious, and Apple engineers had even seriously considered using Linux.

Other interesting notes from the article:

- The iPhone's codename was P2, short for Purple 2. Purple 1 was an abandoned iPod phone project.
- Apple engineers had spent a year working on touchscreen technology for a Tablet PC. (no other details available in the article)

Related Forum: iPhone

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