The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

iPhone: Apple founder Steve Jobs had very different plans for company's iconic smartphone, new book reveals

He almost ditched one its most iconic features

Cyber-beast? Steve Jobs at the launch of the iPhone 4 in San Francisco, 2010 
Cyber-beast? Steve Jobs at the launch of the iPhone 4 in San Francisco, 2010 

The iPhone might never have existed if Steve Jobs had had his way.

Apple’s late co-founder is widely credited with generating the first real interest in smartphones and laying the groundwork for the enormous market that exists today.

The unveiling of the original iPhone in 2007 was a huge moment for both Apple and the world, but things might have panned out very differently if it wasn’t for the persistence of the company’s staff.

Jobs’ doubts about the iPhone have been revealed by Brian Merchant in his new book, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone.

According to Mr Merchant, Jobs initially didn’t see a great deal of potential in the then-emerging smartphone market, and his hand was forced when it became clear that smartphones could become competitive with the iPod.

“The iPhone began as an experimental project undertaken without [Jobs’] knowledge, became an official project at the prodding of his executive staff and was engineered into being by a team of brilliant, unfathomably hard-working programmers and hardware experts,” Mr Merchant told CNBC.

Even after Jobs was persuaded to press ahead with the iPhone, he almost changed what has now become one of the handset’s most iconic features: the single, circular home button.

Jobs wasn’t convinced by it, and instead insisted that the iPhone should have a permanent Back key too.

“The touch-based phone, which was originally supposed to be nothing but screen, was going to need at least one button,” reads a passage in the book.

“We all know it well today – the Home button. But Steve Jobs wanted it to have two; he felt they’d need a back button for navigation.”

According to the book, he was eventually talked around by Imran Chaudhri, a veteran Apple designer.

“Chaudhri argued that it was all about generating trust and predictability,” the book continues. “One button that does the same thing every time you press it: it shows you your stuff.”

Incidentally, that button is rumoured to be on its way out later this year, when Apple unveils its latest flagship iPhone.

Mr Merchant writes, “‘Again, that came down to a trust issue,’” Chaudhri says, ‘that people could trust the device to do what they wanted it to do. Part of the problem with other phones was the features were buried in menus, they were too complex.’ A back button could complicate matters too, he told Jobs.

“‘I won that argument,’ Chaudhri says.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in