“There were multiple times where we nearly shelved the phone because we thought there were fundamental problems that we can’t solve,” said Sir Jony, speaking at a British Business Embassy event to coincide with the Olympics. One problem involved an early prototype “where I put the phone to my ear and my ear dials the number”… accidentally.
The Ive-designed iPhone has gone on to enjoy extraordinary success since its launch in 2007, selling almost 250 million and becoming a design classic. But Sir Jony, who has worked at Apple since 1992, said it was not uncommon to feel during the planning stage of a device that “we were pursuing something that we think ‘that’s really incredibly compelling’, but we’re really struggling to solve the problem that it represents”.
“We have been, on a number of occasions, preparing for mass production and in a room and realised we are talking a little too loud about the virtues of something. That to me is always the danger, if I’m trying to talk a little too loud about something and realising I’m trying to convince myself that something’s good.
“You have that horrible, horrible feeling deep down in your tummy and you know that it’s OK but it’s not great. And I think some of the bravest things we’ve ever done are really at that point when you say, ‘that’s good and it’s competent, but it not’s great’.”