The iPhone 4, now one of the older models of the game-changing smartphone.
The iPhone 4, now one of the older models of the game-changing smartphone. Lee Constable

The making of the iPhone: ‘It’s the reason I’m divorced’

APPLE co-founder and chairman Steve Jobs apparently didn't want the company to make the iPhone before it completely revolutionised technology and life, an explosive new book reveals.

Mr Jobs, counted among the greatest American chief executives of his generation, was at the helm of Apple when it introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad. All of the devices were major commercial successes that both reshaped daily life and swamped previous digital music players, smartphones and tablets.

But in Brian Merchant's yet to-be released book, The One Device: The secret history of the iPhone, the author claims Mr Jobs was initially extremely reluctant for Apple to make phones.

The Verge this week published an excerpt from the book about the internal fighting around the phone's creation a decade ago.

"The problem with a phone is that we're not very good going through orifices to get to the end users," Mr Jobs said in 2005.

By orifices, he meant carriers like Verizon and AT & T, which had final say over which phones could access their networks, according to the book.

"Carriers now have gained the upper hand in terms of the power of the relationship with the handset manufacturers," it read.

"So the handset manufacturers are really getting these big thick books from the carriers telling them here's what your phone's going to be. We're not good at that."

Even this model, the iPhone 5S, has been superseded by later models.
Even this model, the iPhone 5S, has been superseded by later models. Lee Constable


Mr Jobs reportedly also had private concerns about Apple making the iPhone, which went on to become one of the biggest selling items of our time.

The book's author said one former Apple executive who had daily meetings with Mr Jobs told him the co-founder was concerned with a lack of focus in the company.

"He wasn't convinced that smartphones were going to be for anyone but the 'pocket protector crowd', as we used to call them," the book read.

He reportedly feared it would make the company's best-selling iPods redundant.

Apple eventually partnered with Motorola in a bid to neutralise a threat to the iPod.

"Motorola would make the handset; Apple would do the iTunes software," the book read.

"It was, how can we make it a very small experience, so they still had to buy an iPod? Give them a taste of iTunes and basically turn it into an iPod Shuffle so that they'll want to upgrade to an iPod. That was the initial strategy," Fadell says.

"It was, 'Let's not cannibalise the iPod because it's going so well.'"

The first iPhone was released in 2007. Mr Jobs unveiled the product, describing it as an ultra-slim, less than half-an-inch thick, with phone and internet capability, an MP3 player and two megapixel digital camera.

Many updated versions of the phone have since been released, with the iPhone 8 expected to be released soon. Mr Jobs died following a battle with pancreatic cancer in 2011.


But those who worked on the creation of the iPhone subsequently had their lives ripped apart, according to the book. The author claims that the lives of those who went to work on the iPhone, including star engineers, "would never be the same".

"At least, not for the next two and a half years.

"Not only would they be working overtime to hammer together the most influential piece of consumer technology of their generation, but they'd be doing little else.

"Their personal lives would disappear, and they wouldn't be able to talk about what they were working on."
One of the top Apple executives who helped build the iPhone, Tony Fadell, said Mr Jobs was "naturally paranoid about potential leaks from anyone who left the company", the extract read, according to The Verge.
Senior iPhone engineer Andy Grignon told the author that "the iPhone is the reason I'm divorced".

"Yeah, the iPhone ruined more than a few marriages," Mr Grignon said.

"It was really intense, probably professionally one of the worst times of my life.

"Because you created a pressure cooker of a bunch of really smart people with an impossible deadline, an impossible mission, and then you hear that the future of the entire company is resting on it. So it was just like this soup of misery."

Mr Merchant wrote that he had heard the same sentiment from dozens of interviewees with the iPhone's key architects and engineers.

According to Mr Grignon there was no "time to kick your feet back and say: This is going to be really f***ing awesome one day'.

"It was like, 'Holy f***, we're f***ed.' Every time you turned around there was some just imminent demise of the program just lurking around the corner."

The latest model, the iPhone 7, is about to be replaced.
The latest model, the iPhone 7, is about to be replaced. Bev Lacey

Several former Apple employees and associates this week responded to claims made in the book extract.

"I can tell you there's stuff that's just not true," former Apple worker Michael Gartenberg tweeted on Tuesday.

Apple blogger and podcaster John Gruber also questioned the accuracy of the book in four posts.

The quick reaction from Apple defenders to Mr Merchant's unauthorised Apple history is reminiscent of what happened to other recent books in which the subject was Apple, Business Insider reported.

Walter Isaacson's seminal and authorised biography of Mr Jobs was criticised by executives including chief executive Tim Cook and head of design Jony Ive, according to the site.

Apple executives also denied stories in Yukari Iwatani Kane's book Haunted Empire, with Mr Cook calling the entire work "nonsense".

The One Device: The secret history of the iPhone is scheduled for release on June 20.

News Corp Australia

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