Friday, March 4, 2022

On the Origin of the iPhone

John Gruber:

Fadell’s story adds up; Businessweek’s description of the embedded Linux project being led by Fadell does not. (Businessweek’s description of Forstall and Fadell as political rivals definitely adds up, though. The cutthroat internal politics of Apple under Steve Jobs — strong personalities with large egos — amidst tumultuous technical drama (see timeline below) sounds like the makings for a damn good show like Succession.)


Steve Jobs was famously good at picking the winning horse early. A few sources I contacted mentioned missing Jobs’s decisiveness. His good taste is famous, but his faith in his intuition was extraordinary too. His decision to back Forstall’s project to use Mac OS X as the basis for the iPhone’s OS was obviously correct, but also was made quickly.

It’s entirely possible that Facebook’s years-long equivocation over its AR/VR OS strategy isn’t a sign of indecision on Mark Zuckerberg’s part, per se, but rather an indicator of an industry-wide trend. A fear of shutting ideas down. That every idea should be explored in depth — why not, with so much money available to spend? FOMO, at the level of giant corporations, with trillion-dollar stakes.

But the “bake-off” period at Apple for the iPhone’s OS lasted only a few months and involved, at most, a few dozen engineers and designers. According to The Information, Facebook’s XROS project lasted over four years and involved over 300 employees by the time it was shuttered in November. It is interesting to compare the two bake-offs, but only insofar as how differently they were conducted.

He has a good timeline, beginning with the Motorola Rokr.

Ken Kocienda:

This is the iPhone software development environment in February 2006. The software itself was in a similar state—a lot of duct tape and chicken wire. Yet, with much hard work, we were ready to announce less than a year later.

See also: The Talk Show.


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