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Summary:

Former iPhone marketing manager Bob Borchers tells students how Steve Jobs originally approached the iPhone team with the challenge of building the iPhone, a device that to date has sold 183 million units in less than five years.

The original iPhone, 2007.

The original iPhone, 2007.

Here’s a good primer on how Apple’s initial product design and conception works.

Apple Insider has a great account of former iPhone marketing manager Bob Borchers talking to students at an unnamed California school recently. He explains how his former boss, Steve Jobs, originally approached the iPhone team with the challenge of building a device that to date has sold 183 million units in less than five years.

“His [charge] was simple. He wanted to create the first phone that people would fall in love with. That’s what he told us.”

“Now if you’re an engineer, like I am by training, you’re like ‘what the heck does that mean?’,” he said. “But he was right. The idea was, he wanted to create something that was so instrumental and integrated in peoples’ lives that you’d rather leave your wallet at home than your iPhone.” Borchers noted that Apple’s success largely stemmed from focusing on only a handful of fundamental concepts: break the rules but do so in an exceptionally well manner, pay attention to detail and make people “think differently” about the relationship they have with their device, especially given that smartphones already existed in the market.

Notice the lack of numbers or spec goals right from the start. Later in the talk, Borchers says the overall goals Jobs laid out for the nascent device were to “be a revolutionary mobile phone, the best iPod to date, and also let users carry ‘the internet in their pocket.’” He also didn’t mention downloadable apps, GPS, video or photos. Instead, when breaking into a market in which the company had no prior presence, Jobs started with the concept of an emotional connection with the product and an attitude not to imitate or mimic, but to think beyond, what any other company was presently making.

This is useful for thinking about how Apple will approach future markets too.

You can watch the videos, which have much more about Apple’s unconventional relationship with AT&T, obsession with product packaging and more, here.

  1. kootenayredneck Friday, February 3, 2012

    And it had nothing to do with sex.

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  2. Lindsworth Horatio Deer Friday, February 3, 2012

    Love how Apple vision of the Apple iPhone was so nebulous!!!! Pie in the sky dreaminess translated by Engineers into a thing of beauty!! That’s the Steve jobs i know!!! Apple’s iPhone serves as the inspiration for many other apple products such as the Apple iPad and potentially the apple television Set.

    http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2011/07/apple-iphone-and-hardware-quality-count.html

    Nothing to do with sex? Hmmmm…….true. But Apple iPhone user usually get more sex so i guess it balances out eventually!! :D

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  3. Laughing_Boy48 Friday, February 3, 2012

    The Windows Phone concept had a much better strategy. “Look, don’t concern yourself about individual users. I just want a cellphone OS that works on every possible mobile device from every vendor and carrier you could ever imagine. Our aim is to grab 90% of mobile market share in a year. I don’t care how you do it, but get it done quickly. OK, with that goal in mind, let’s get started.” Steve Ballmer liked that strategy. He liked it a lot.

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    1. That sounds more like Android’s approach.

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    2. This approach is centered entirely around the company creating it. Apple’s approach puts the user (you) in the center. Android and WP want the marketshare. Apple wants to create a product people love.

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      1. Have you used WP7?

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      2. Hamranhansenhansen Saturday, February 4, 2012

        The customer is always at the center. With Apple, the user is the customer. With Google, the advertiser or carrier is the customer. With Microsoft, the hardware maker or carrier is the customer. So if you are a user, that is why Apple’s gear seems to be made for you.

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    3. Honestly, what are you talking about? Have you used WP7?

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  4. This is what sets Apple apart, in my opinion. They didn’t just want to make a phone, and make money selling it. They wanted to create the experience, that everyone would chase for years afterwards.

    “Instead, when breaking into a market in which the company had no prior presence, Jobs started with the concept of an emotional connection with the product and an attitude not to imitate or mimic, but to think beyond, what any other company was presently making.”

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  5. The Windows Phone concept had a much better strategy. “Look, don’t concern yourself about individual users. I just want a cellphone OS that works on every possible mobile device from every vendor and carrier you could ever imagine. Our aim is to grab 90% of mobile market share in a year. I don’t care how you do it, but get it done quickly. OK, with that goal in mind, let’s get started.” Steve Ballmer liked that strategy. He liked it a lot.

    Share
  6. Before the iPhone, I had a palm Treo. I loved this, but it had some issues. The web browser was very basic, as most were on phones of the time. Because they had to please the carriers there s no wifi, and in NZ cell data plans were expensive. Synch was good however, but discard the palm software and use pumasoft. That was awesome. It had a good physical keyboard, but this kept the screen small. Then it broke and I had to replace it with a windows mobile instead. Same body, but the OS was shocking. It crashed often, had to constantly reboot to recover memory, the media player was ok, but very dumb. Then I saw the iPhone keynote. OMG. Full size screen, a browser that rendered the web properly, and the accelerometers! I had to have one. As soon asthe came available in NZ, I sold my Treo, and bught a 3G. My wife still uses it, I’m on my iPhone 4 now. The killer features were the predictive text, managing the way the virtual keyboard appeared, and the smart zooming in safari. And I almost never had to reot it and it never crashed. Apps did, but no woke reboot required. Oh and wifi AND 3G data! I could finally afford to have a connected phone.

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