iOS iPhones News, apple, iphone, samsung, smartphone, steve jobs — March 26, 2014 19:04 — 0 Comments
Steve Jobs gave iPhone engineers ‘two-week deadline in 2005′
An Apple engineer has recounted how Jobs drove the design of the smartphone, as a fresh trial against Samsung over phone and tablet patents begins
• This article was written by Charles Arthur for the Guardian and published on 26 March 2014.
Steve Jobs gave the original iPhone engineers just two weeks to provide a “software vision” for the company in February 2005, threatening to hand the work over to another group inside Apple, according to a former engineer with the company.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Greg Christie – who is still in charge of Apple’s user interface team – said that he was working for former iPhone software chief Scott Forstall, who recruited him to the top-secret team in late 2004 for a project codenamed “purple” which was to become the iPhone.
The revelation appears to be part of a publicity push by Apple before a patent trial in California with rival smartphone firm Samsung which begins on Monday. Apple is asserting a number of software-based patents against four smartphones and tablets from the Korean company. Among the patents Apple is asserting is the “slide to unlock” system introduced on the iPhone – which Christie says his “shockingly small” team devised early in 2005. It is also suing Samsung over patents relating to “unified search”, autocompletion of typing and data synchronisation.
In 2004, Apple did not have any touchscreen products; it was still selling iPods which used spinning hard drives. The solid-state iPod nano was more than a year away, and Apple did not offer an iPod able to play video. But Christie says Jobs “wanted bigger ideas and bigger concepts”.
Can touch this
Christie says that even in 2004 the idea of Apple’s product was clear – to have a touchscreen handset which incorporated music-playing functions. He says that the team “banged their head against the wall” in determining basic behaviour such as the ideal speed for list scrolling and how to get the right feel for the “bounce” when the end of the list was reached. Apple has sued companies including HTC for infringement of the “bounceback” behaviour, which it has patented. He says that besides the “bounceback” and list scrolling system, the team also devised the method by which an address book contact could be used to make a call, and the touch-operated music player system. Samsung is countersuing, saying Apple has infringed two of its patents. None of the patents at issue is classed as “standards-essential”, which the holder would be obliged to license to a willing counterparty.
Christie says that the team continued giving fortnightly presentations to Jobs for months as the software progressed, but that design chief Jonathan Ive – who was designing the physical phone, which the team did not see – wasn’t shown the software until Jobs himself was satisfied with it. Apple staff who were working on the iPhone designs at home had to use “secluded” rooms and encrypt their work.
A separate account by Fred Vogelstein in the book “Dogfight” has described how the iPhone team worked almost continually on the iPhone software through the second half of 2006, and that even when Steve Jobs showed the device off in January 2007 his presentation had to be carefully planned with a “golden path” of screens and functions in case so that it wouldn’t crash due to the numerous bugs in what was still incomplete software. Even after that demonstration, Christie’s team removed a split-screen view for email showing the sender and the message because Jobs thought it was “foolish” – though the idea was revived for email on the larger-screen iPad.
Apple and Samsung now dominate the smartphone market, with Apple having sold an estimated 500m iPhones since its release in June 2007.
The trial will once more pit the two biggest and most profitable smartphone companies against each other. In summer 2012 Apple sued Samsung in California and won damages of $930m for infringement by Samsung of a number of software and “design” patents.
The battle between the two companies has been fought through the press as much as in court. Ahead of the 2013 launch of Samsung’s then-new Galaxy S4 flagship phone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller gave an interview to Reuters in which he said that it would ship with Android software that was nearly a year old, and queried Android users’ engagement with their phones, saying “it’s not just enough to have products pumped out in large numbers. You have to love and use them.”
Samsung separately angered the judge in the 2012 trial by issuing a press release on the first day of the trial, after being denied permission to enter evidence which it said “would have established beyond doubt” that Samsung did not copy the iPhone’s design, with links to websites showing the evidence that it said showed Apple was influenced by Sony designs. The judge threatened to sanction Samsung’s lawyers over the release, but took no action after the jurors said they have not read it.
Christie joined Apple in 1996 to work on its ill-fated Newton personal digital assistant.
Apple is now suing Samsung alleging infringement of its patents by four key products – its Galaxy S3 smartphone, Galaxy Note “phablet” and Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. Unlike the previous trial, Apple is not asserting any “design” patents relating to the physical appearance of the products; instead it is focusing on the way that the software behaves.