How Apple conceived the iPhone
I like to use this tidbit of information as a reference point when I’m trying to conceive a new idea or polish an existing one. This is the rundown of the inner workings behind Apple’s product design and conception.
Bob Borchers had a talk with students at an unnamed California school recently, according to Apple Insider, which has a great retell of the story. Bob explains how Steve Jobs, his former boss had originally approached the iPhone team and hitting them with the challenge of building the revolutionary device that up until today has sold over 185 million units.
“He put it straightforward. He wanted to create the first ever phone that people would fall in love with. That’s what he told us.”
“Now if you’re an engineer, like I am by training, you think ‘what the heck does that mean?’,” said Bob. “But he was right. The idea was, he wanted to create something that was so instrumental and integrated in peoples’ lives that you’d rather leave your wallet at home than your iPhone.” Borchers told us that Apple’s success largely comes from focusing on only a handful of fundamental concepts and values: break the rules but do so in an exceptionally well manner, focus on the small details and make people “reshape their thoughts” about the relationship they have with their mobile device, especially given that smartphones had already come into existence in the market.
Notice how there were no number or specification goals right from the get-go. Later on in our conversation, Borchers tells us that the overall goals Jobs had laid out for the spawning device were for it to be a “revolutionary mobile phone, the best iPod to date which also lets the users ‘carry the internet in their pocket’”.
At that stage he hadn’t even brought up the topic of downloadable apps, GPS, video or photos. Instead, breaking into the alien market in which the company had absolutely no prior presence, Jobs had initiated action with the concept of an emotional connection with the product and an attitude not to follow, imitate or mimic, but to pioneer, think beyond, revolutionize and be ahead of anything any other company was making.
If you think about all of the other markets Apple can delve in to, this is useful for thinking how Apple will approach those markets.