How Apple conceived the iPhone
The original iPhone, 2007.
Here’s a good primer on how Apple’s initial product design and conception works.
Apple Insider has a great account of former iPhone marketing manager Bob Borchers talking to students at an unnamed California school recently. He explains how his former boss, Steve Jobs, originally approached the iPhone team with the challenge of building a device that to date has sold 183 million units in less than five years.
“His [charge] was simple. He wanted to create the first 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’re like ‘what the heck does that mean?’,” he said. “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 noted that Apple’s success largely stemmed from focusing on only a handful of fundamental concepts: break the rules but do so in an exceptionally well manner, pay attention to detail and make people “think differently” about the relationship they have with their device, especially given that smartphones already existed in the market.
Notice the lack of numbers or spec goals right from the start. Later in the talk, Borchers says the overall goals Jobs laid out for the nascent device were to “be a revolutionary mobile phone, the best iPod to date, and also let users carry ‘the internet in their pocket.’” He also didn’t mention downloadable apps, GPS, video or photos. Instead, when breaking into a market in which the company had no prior presence, Jobs started with the concept of an emotional connection with the product and an attitude not to imitate or mimic, but to think beyond, what any other company was presently making.
This is useful for thinking about how Apple will approach future markets too.