If you're feeling bummed about a bad idea, just remember that it happens to the best.
However, in a revealing new excerpt (published on The Verge) from the book The One Device, which tells the untold story of the iPhone's origin, author Brian Merchant explains how even the legendary Steve Jobs nearly flubbed what is arguably his company's most important product.
Indeed, as the excerpt notes, Jobs' initial hope for the iPhone was to produce a model that looked far too similar in form and function to its cousin, the iPod. In fact, he wanted people to buy the phone so that they would then purchase an iPod, so resistant he was to creating a phone at all.
"It was, 'How can we make it a very small experience, so they still had to buy an iPod?' Give them a taste of iTunes and basically turn it into an iPod Shuffle so that they’ll want to upgrade to an iPod. That was the initial strategy,” said Tony Fadell, an integral team member in creating both products. “It was, ‘Let’s not cannibalize the iPod because it’s going so well.’”
Ironically enough, it was the iPod which would one day become baked into the phone, effectively rendering the music player obsolete. But before that, Jobs was insistent on using its signature click wheel as the navigation tool for Apple's first phone. Unfortunately, the hardware was, as one Apple employee put it, "a f*cking mess," as the click wheel proved to be inadequate for the many demands of a phone. However, Jobs was stubborn about the superiority of this idea over alternative designs, such as a touchscreen phone.
"Steve kept pushing and pushing, and we were like, ‘Steve.’ He’s pushing the rock up a hill," said Fadell. "Let’s put it this way: I think he knew, I could tell in his eyes that he knew; he just wanted it to work."
Eventually, though, Jobs relented, and settled on the touchscreen design that would come to define smartphones everywhere. (Including the iPhone 8, which is rumored to have a bigger touchscreen than any previous model.)
“We all know [touchscreen] is the one we want to do,” Jobs reportedly said in a meeting. “So let’s make it work.”
They sure did. But if Jobs had his way, who knows how we'd remember the iPhone today?