Apple’s iPhone was released ten years ago on Monday. The iPhone has truly become a cult product, but there are many inside stories that made Apple’s smartphone “the iPhone” as we know it today. The BBC covered some of those stories, one of which is related to the elimination of the keyboard from the iPhone.
How Jobs made others agree to eliminate the keyboard
According to the BBC, there was a fiery debate at Apple about whether the iPhone should have a keyboard. According to Tony Fadell (also called the “Godfather of the iPod”), the fight raged on for months, and it was a very ugly situation.
Steve Jobs had his heart set on a touchscreen. He became so incensed with people not agreeing with his notions that he enforced a blunt policy. Fadell recalls Steve Jobs saying to pro-keyboarders that they cannot come back in the room until they agree with them.
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“If you don’t want to be on the team, don’t be on the team,” Fadell recalled him saying.
Fadell said that after one person was sent out of the room, everybody got the message and fell in line. Though the argument left the room, it did not leave the minds of the iPhone team. Even today, some think that not adding a keyboard was the wrong decision.
Apple had a secret stylus strategy
Another inside story is related to the stylus. Though Jobs was very clear that the iPhone wouldn’t support a stylus, Fadell had a secret strategy in mind. To the team, Fadell said working on the multi-touch screen was possibly the greatest breakthrough the iPhone gave to ensure that it was compatible with a stylus.
“Because we knew it was right, even though Steve was making a philosophical point initially saying you can just use your finger. We knew there will come a day when you’re going to need a stylus. We did it without his knowledge, it was behind the scenes. He would’ve ripped my head off,” Fadell recalled.
For stubborn designers and engineers, doing things behind the scenes was a common strategy. They believed that what Jobs did not know could not hurt him. Fadell said it was the same thing that happened with the iPod working on a personal computer. Though Jobs may have never liked the idea of Apple products working on the Windows, his hatred for the stylus was well-known. However, in 2015, his successor, Tim Cook, eventually introduced the Apple Pencil.