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Tony Fadell shows ”crazy” prototypes of the iPod phone

Tony Fadell shows ”crazy” prototypes of the iPod phone
Written by insideindyhomes


Before the iPhone was officially presented, there were already various secret prototypes. This model in particular could probably have acquired cult status.

Because these prototypes are basically an iPod with a click wheel, as was common at the time. But if you turned the bottom hinge forward, you suddenly had a keyboard like a phone. Really “tricky”. As reported by 9toMac , the publication dates back to Tony Fadell, who ran Apple’s iPod division in the early 2000s and recently published a book that he’s now promoting by presenting bits and pieces of interesting content.

After disappointment with Motorola I tried it myself

The English-language book, freshly published by Harper Business, is entitled ”


Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making

”. In it, Fadell shares details about his time at Apple and other tech companies.

After Apple’s failed partnership with Motorola to provide iTunes on the ROKR E1, Steve Jobs and other Apple engineers set out to create their own smartphone. The iPod should serve as a template for this by wanting to integrate a telephone into the music player. Among other things, this resulted in this amazing prototype with a click wheel that can be transformed into a number pad.

According to Fadell, the prototype was built by a third-party manufacturer during the early stages of “iPod Phone” development. Using a swivel, the bottom of the iPod could be quickly changed to use it as a telephone. The prototype also had a built-in camera, and the colors were already very similar to the official colors of the first iPhone. In any case, all this sounds astonishingly exciting and what little boys from 9 to 99 years of age long for. In this respect it’s a pity, but the iPhone is ultimately a much more sophisticated and coherent design from a single source.

The order for the clickwheel telephone came from Job himself

According to Fadell, Steve Jobs himself commissioned this prototype. Because the click wheel was so iconic at the time, also due to its great success and its spread on the iPod, that at first you could hardly imagine it any other way. This is how the “iPod Plus Phone” came about.

But it didn’t really work: ”We’ve been working for weeks to figure out how to input with the click wheel. We couldn’t do it, and after the whole team was convinced we couldn’t do it, Jobs said, ‘Keep trying!’ At some point we all said, ‘No, this isn’t going to work.'”

That’s how the former vice president of the iPod division came to believe that the experience with a click-wheel phone wasn’t good. This prompted Apple engineers and designers to completely rethink the project, this time with a large touchscreen, almost no physical buttons, and an operating system based on Mac OS X. We know the rest of the story – in 2007 Steve Jobs proudly presented the new iPhone. He said this is the first “an iPod with a large, touch-sensitive screen. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a groundbreaking Internet communication device.” There was no more talk of the click wheel, which turned into a keyboard for the telephone when you turned it. Probably nobody would really miss it anymore either…

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