Despite Apple being worth nearly $600 billion and the iPhone being a major part in that, the company’s chief product designer Jonathan Ive says that the first iPhone was nearly scrapped and that Apple doesn’t really care about money so much. The quotes below are transcribed by The Telegraph. Ive spoke at the British Business conference, which is running alongside the Olympic Games.
Ive on the iPhone: “We nearly shelved the phone because we thought there were fundamental problems that we can’t solve. With the early prototypes, I held the phone to my ear and my ear [would] dial the number. You have to detect all sorts of ear-shapes and chin shapes, skin colour and hairdo…that was one of just many examples where we really thought, perhaps this isn’t going to work.”
Ive on money: “Our goal isn’t to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal.”
Ive on Apple’s revival: “Apple was very close to bankruptcy and to irrelevance [but] you learn a lot about life through death, and I learnt a lot about vital corporations by experiencing a non-vital corporation. You would have thought that, when what stands between you and bankruptcy is some money, your focus would be on making some money, but that was not [Steve Jobs’] preoccupation. His observation was that the products weren’t good enough and his resolve was, we need to make better products. That stood in stark contrast to the previous attempts to turn the company around.”
We feel compelled to note that Ive is one of the chief creative people at Apple, so he may very well feel that his goal isn’t to make money, because it isn’t. His job is to create excellent products that end up compelling folks like you and I to pay top dollar for them. Apple’s goal, like any other business, is to make money. It just has a vision and set of standards that it tries to follow. And it’s now made enough money that it now has the luxury to strictly follow those standards.