iPhone pre-launch: rumors & Steve’s brain
The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2008 keynote begins at 10am Pacific today, June 9th, 2008. It is universally believed that the new 3G iPhone with (most likely) GPS will be unveiled there. For a roundup of the best of the rest of the rumors, click here.
You spend a lot of time describing how they come up with these products. It’s a unique process, one that involves a huge number of prototypes. Can you describe it?
It’s a process where they discover the product through constantly creating new iterations. A lot of companies will do six or seven prototypes of a product, because each one takes time and money. Apple will do a hundred — that’s how many they did of the Macbook. Steve Jobs doesn’t wake up one morning and there’s a vision of an iPhone floating in front of his face. He and his team discovered it through this exhaustive process of building prototype after prototype.
The prototypes are fully functioning. They have a studio packed with high-end manufacturing equipment. Initially the prototypes are built in big polycarbonate boxes, but as they perfect the enclosure they’ll build fully functioning models in the studio and then on factory lines to make sure they can be manufactured.
One of the important things about this process is they often find what fails. Jobs has said he’s as proud of the stuff they haven’t done as the stuff they have done. They made a PDA in the late 90s to compete with Palm, but they never released it because it didn’t live up to their expectations.
Some people see the phone market shaping up as a competition Google and Apple. It seems Google might be playing the role Microsoft did with Windows in the early 90s — its mobile OS, Android, is open, it’s going to be available for all kinds of phone makers on all kinds of devices.
It’s almost exactly like the early days of the PC market. Apple’s control-freak tendencies could be its own worst enemy. Developers would much rather work with someone like Google or Microsoft who are much more developer-friendly, much more open, don’t place so many restrictions on the experience.