Bob Borchers used to be an iPhone product marketing engineer for Apple. Part of the team that brought the first iPhone to market in 2007, he's now a venture capitalist with Opus Capital. Borchers recently gave a talk to students at a California school talking about the thought processes that were involved in the iPhone's development.
Borchers says that Steve Jobs didn't have a specific device in mind, but instead gave the team a mission: create a phone that people would love so much that they'd never leave the house without it. Borchers believes that Apple has been so wildly successful with the iPhone because the company focused on fundamentals -- breaking the rules, but in an exceptionally well manner; paying attention to details; and making people focus on the relationship they have with their device.
Jobs wanted the phone to be revolutionary, the best iPod the company had ever designed, and allow users to access the internet easily from a pocket-sized device. What the iPhone has become -- a device with downloadable apps, GPS capabilities, video and photography features, and voice integration -- wasn't part of the original concept.
Borchers noted that the original iPhone almost shipped with a plastic touchscreen, but Jobs was concerned that the plastic would scratch if users put the phone in a pocket with keys and other metallic items. The team improvised, convinced Corning to re-start production of the abandoned Gorilla Glass, and the iPhone has had a fairly scratch-resistant display since day one.
Apple's obsession with product packaging was mentioned by Borchers, who said that the company spends "way too much time" on presenting products, but he conceded that it is ultimately worthwhile to do so since it communicates the special nature of Apple products to consumers.
With future "insanely great" products in the pipeline, we can only hope that the Steve Jobs obsession with details remains part of Apple's DNA.