Apple senior vice president of industrial design, Jony Ive has revealed the first phone he ever designed. Credited for much of Apple’s success in becoming an industry leader in technology design and phone specifications, Ive makes note of the industry’s advancement in design capabilities, presenting an image of a prototypical phone he created decades ago. Sharply contrasting any modern day mobile device, Ive’s prototype features a bulky, attached microphone, which the user would speak through. Enjoy select excerpts from Jony Ive’s Vanity Fair Summit interview below and head over to the Business Insider for the entire piece.
Why did you go back to rounded edges on the iPhone?
Years ago we made prototypes with bigger screens. They were interesting features having a bigger screen, but the end result was a lousy product because they were clunky like a lot of competitors’ phones are still. Years ago we realized this is going to be important that we have larger screens but we need to do a lot of things to make it a compelling product.
When did it happen that you could send out something so complex like the iPhone without instructions?
That’s what we try to do. I think for a lot of us, a large display that you can directly touch, seemed obvious and natural. It wasn’t the case 9 years ago when we were first working on it. If it was inevitable and obvious we would’ve done it years ago.
What was the first Apple product you used before joining Apple?
In art school. The computers colleges had were terrible. I assumed the problems were with me. When you eat something that’s bad, you assume the food is bad. But when you use a bad product, you assume it’s you. In art school I used the Mac. There were some shocking things. For the first time in my life, I had a very clear sense of the people who had gotten together to design and make that product. I realized there are stuff that we do that attest to our values. From that point, I developed a real interest about these group of guys in California that made a computer that you could change the noises. I was absolutely intrigued by that. I wanted to find out who did this.
Talk about designing the watch.
Always been interested in watches. At first watches were designed before pockets were invented, so they were hung around necks. Then the pocketwatch happened. There were watches worn on fingers in the 17th century. For reasons of function, for reasons of utility, it ended up on the wrist. And you’ll notice it stayed there for over 100 years. It has now an historical gravitas. It’s a really great place to be able to glance quickly at information. When we started working on it, it seemed like a natural place for technology to end up.
Lessons working with Steve Jobs?
Focus. Steve was the most focused person I’ve met in my life. It’s terrifying that when you really truly focus, it seems a bit illegal. You can achieve so much. Steve would say “How many things have you said no to?” And I would have these sacrificial things…and he knew that I wasn’t interested in doing those things anyway. What focus means is saying no with every bone in your body to something you know is a good idea but you say no because you’re focused on something else.
I remember talking to Steve Jobs and asked why he was perceived as harsh. And I said couldn’t we be more moderate? And he said why? And I said because I care about the team. And he said: “No Jony, you’re just really vain. You just want people to like you. I’m surprised at you, because I thought you really held the work up as the most important and not how you are perceived by people.” People misunderstand Steve because he was so focused.