Apple Design Chief Jonathan Ive Says iPhone Was ‘Nearly Axed’

Apple’s design chief Sir Jonathan Ive said that the iPhone was “nearly axed” at multiple stages in its development. In an interview with The Telegraph he says:

“We nearly shelved the phone because we thought there were fundamental problems that we can’t solve. With the early prototypes, I held the phone to my ear and my ear [would] dial the number. You have to detect all sorts of ear-shapes and chin shapes, skin color and hairdo…that was one of just many examples where we really thought, perhaps this isn’t going to work.”

Apple had been battling with the usability aspects of a touch screen based design but the design chief says he didn’t have the typical profit motive as the driver.

“Our goal isn’t to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal.”

Sir Jonathan Ive commented that Apple does not get enough credit for its decisions to stop working on devices that are “competent” as opposed to “great”. I really wonder how many products were shelved because they were merely  good instead of great? Could there be another ahead-of-its-time project in a dusty storage room in Cupertino that might be resurrected as an industry leader sometime soon? Let’s hope so.