This top secret project called iPhone

This room was just another room like so many in the building, a bit small for an old meeting room and damn inaccessible – it didn’t even have a window. Housekeeping did not have access to it. “There is no need to clean up here, there is only garbage that we have to keep somewhere and that we are not going to use anymore”, commented someone from Apple in front of the gesture more than likely indifferent the person in charge of the installations of the Cupertino company. .

People from key projects are disappearing, and it had only happened once at Apple: with the launch of the Macintosh.

Inside it smelled like coffee, pizza, and there were more people than any HR department would have considered reasonable… if they had known. Some company employees have been puzzled – even for Apple – by the rare disappearance of key personnel from certain projects. This was not a normal reallocation of resources. Scott Forstall himself was appearing more and more often at the project table and literally “ripping off” certain profiles of what they were doing. It didn’t matter what it was. To the astonishment of the project managers who did not have a clear answer as to the destination of these people. “I only saw that situation at this company, and that was when we launched the Macintosh in 1984,” some company stories commented. They were not lacking in reason.

The Project Purple 2 room, with a prototype of the original iPhone. Very few knew it existed.

The first rule of the Fight Club also applied in Project Purple 2: no one could speak of its existence.

Inside that room were all these people. Many of them had to say they were working on projects that didn’t exist, and had to cancel vacations, honeymoons and sleep. At the door, a poster of the popular film El Club de la Lucha was hung: “The first rule of the fight club is that we do not talk about the fight club”, a declaration of intent. On the table, a purple stuffed animal in the shape of a kangaroo. This color would become the name of the project to avoid any relation to what they were reporting: Project Purple 2.

This “2” made sense to the world. It was because of the first day that Steve Jobs saw a prototype of what was to be the original project, a three-layer multi-touch display with inertial motion for a different project.

“This technology is incredible! But we’re not going to use it for the first time on a tablet.

We’re going to create a phone. “

Reinventing the phone, everyone

Ever since the iPod launched in 2001, Apple knew it had to do something with phones. Back in those days, all of us who owned iPods also carried cell phones – some, the first smartphones that allowed us to connect to a primitive web and very simple games based on Java technology. As a business, they also had to face another scenario: at one point, smartphones had enough capacity to play MP3s, and their customers decided to eliminate iPods from their pockets.

The scenario was not easy, but there was no clear winner, beyond the Nokia and BlackBerry which dominated the market but did not evolve the concept. “We have to bring the content that we can have on an iPod, on a smartphone,” Phill Schiller told his teams. The first attempt was not an in-house product: they chatted with Motorola, which was suing the two major mobile brands at the time, to put iTunes in a new phone called ROKR.

That didn’t work: Eddy Cue, vice president of iTunes, only managed to fit in this soulless Motorola the color covers of his albums, a dual stereo speaker, and a hands-free microphone. Far from the next-gen experience they wanted to achieve. Light years from what Steve Jobs imagined, asking for a project that presented a challenge for the company and that decided the future of the same as the Macintosh. A new 1984, a smartphone for “the rest of us”. Maybe that’s why he saw the perfect opportunity in Project Purple which was to be an iPad, and it ended up being Project Purple 2… “We made the smartphone we wanted to buy” Scott Forstall said years after the launch of the original iPhone.

Introduce iPhone, whatever the cost

Greg Christie, who was responsible for the original iPhone team, would have liked to suggest that Jobs announce the launch of the new product a few months later. After all, no one expected such a thing. But I also knew that it was impossible: six days before January 9, 2007, the presentation was already written and repeated over and over. However, the iPhone had never performed well in any of them. And there was no more material time to do anything.

Steve Jobs had to present the original iPhone in a certain order so that it wouldn’t crash … The first time everything worked was on keynote day

The device wasn’t finished yet, the operating system crashed at times, and despite having three backup iPhones he had prepared for the presentation, no one was betting it would work fine. However, the team was able to detect the order in which the iPhone “might” operate without hanging up: teaching the music app and then the mail app wasn’t the same, rather than the other way around. This determined the final order of the presentation, and that’s why Steve Jobs introduced some features earlier than others. It wasn’t a whim: if it had been otherwise, the phone would have hung up. Any of the three he had on stage.

Jobs also didn’t want the internet connection to go down, so he ordered AT-T to install a mobile antenna outside the building. A few days earlier, he had had the idea of ​​convening a live Starbucks in the middle of a keynote to demonstrate the technical capabilities of the product and a failure at this stage would have been catastrophic. Additionally, he asked the development team that the coverage bars are always displayed full, as the internal antenna subsystem was not yet fully closed.

Today, exactly 15 years after that moment, we remember how Jobs and Apple changed the world with a phone that ushered in everything that was to come after: app stores, social media, and even reviews that Macs did. would win – with achievements as incredible as the design of the company’s own processors that the company began with the iPhone 4: the Apple Silicon and its first representative such as the M1.

In my opinion, one of the best moments in the business, and one that I remember most about Jobs, was the thirteen seconds before the announcement of the original iPhone. Those thirteen seconds where Jobs knew he was going to change the world again, and he seemed to savor them carefully. The moment that was reserved for him before announcing it to the world.

Boy you did it.

Thanks Steeve.

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