As with any product released for mass production and global sale, there are many prototypes and iterations of the hardware before it hits the shelves and made available to the consumer. The Apple iPhone is no different. In fact, early versions of the device’s UI is enough to make anyone cringe. As we await the iPhone 8 to be announced, we take a look back to where it all started 10 years ago.
As you may be well aware, Apple achieved great success with its iPod units throughout their various lifespans before making way to the iPhone. In fact, due to the iPod’s popularity and well-known UI, many of the early versions of the OS were based on the same principles. Apple had earlier attempted to put iTunes on phones and in 2005 partnered with Motorola to get this done on their Rokr phone. Unfortunately, Apple weren’t too happy with the result, but fortunately for the rest of the world, this proved to be the catalyst for Steve Jobs as the results of the partnership had infuriated him so much he decided to build his own smartphone.
Since Apple had no previous experience in creating a smartphone or UI, they instead used their experience with their iPod design, going as far as logging a patent for their initial design for the iPhone. There probably weren’t as many patent divers salivating at the prospect of new glimpses for technology logged by major OEMs, so it’s safe to say the original iPhone patents may have passed through without causing any ripples. As you can tell from the design, it closely resembled the iPod Mini, fitted with a scroll wheel interface and not the touch display we know today. Even worse was that rotary dialer, which all but died out on the landline phone in the 90s.
Before going public with the release in 2007, the company were busy testing a few version of the OS, with two versions famously known as the P1 (left) and P2 (right), as shown in the video below (posted by YouTube user Sonny Dickson), both running on what was then known as the Acord OS.
Apple exec, Tony Fadell, was leading the team designing the P1, himself admitting that the right path was chosen, the P2, created by Scott Forstall.
Interestingly, it was Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, who insisted and kept the push for the P1, and was impressed with the result of the first few hundred of the iPhones manufactured fitted with the scroll wheel, leading many to believe that this was going to be the final design for the product. Thankfully, the Apple engineers won out, stating that the company was “overloading the click wheel, and texting and phone numbers – it was a f***ing mess,” iPhone engineer Andy Grignon told Merchant.
I’m sure the world is a better place as a result of not following Jobs’ vision on this one, paving the way for all future smartphones to push their devices to new heights.