Schiller refutes book's account that he demanded physical keyboard in early iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2017
A forthcoming book's accuracy about the early development of the iPhone has come under fire by Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller and Tony Fadell, with both denying a story that Schiller vigorously demanded a physical keyboard during development of the original iPhone prototypes was accurate.




The book, called "The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone" authored by Brian Merchant had passages quoted on The Verge on Tuesday, with one passage discussing how Schiller was pushing the design team for a physical keyboard, like found on the BlackBerry.

The passage cited in the article about the book claims that:
The iPod phone was losing support. The executives debated which project to pursue, but Phil Schiller, Apple's head of marketing, had an answer: Neither. He wanted a keyboard with hard buttons. The BlackBerry was arguably the first hit smartphone. It had an email client and a tiny hard keyboard. After everyone else, including Fadell, started to agree that multitouch was the way forward, Schiller became the lone holdout.
Shortly after the excerpts were published, Schiller responded to a user commenting on the piece on Twitter, and denied the account was accurate.

Not true. Don't believe everything you read...

-- Philip Schiller (@pschiller)


The author stands by the reporting, and declares that Tony Fadell told him the account about Schiller directly.

I stand by the reporting--that is the story Tony Fadell told me, on the record, verbatim.

-- Brian Merchant (@bcmerchant)


On June 14, Fadell, the proclaimed "Father of the iPod" denied that the story about the physical keyboard was accurate.

I respect @pschiller as a colleague & friend. The story about him is not true. Have asked writer to correct the record. https://t.co/87BkZGcHSi

-- Tony Fadell (@tfadell)


Late on June 14, Merchant again stood by his account, and claimed to have audio from the interview in question.

I don't know why Tony would deny this now, I have audio of our interview where he told me this story verbatim.

-- Brian Merchant (@bcmerchant)


Neither Schiller nor Fadell had any other comment on the excerpts.

Merchant has been a Motherboard editor for five years, and has a robust body of work including a stint at Discovery Communications for four years, starting in 2008. "The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone" will be available June 20 from Amazon in paperback for $14.01, or in a Kindle format for $14.99.

The book is in a pre-order status from the Apple Book Store for $14.99 and will also arrive on June 20.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 74
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,150member
    Fake news! ;)
    randominternetpersontallest skil
  • Reply 2 of 74
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,347administrator
    MacPro said:
    Fake news! ;)
    Its some kind of news, that's for sure.
    pscooter63
  • Reply 3 of 74
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    Publicity!
    pscooter63
  • Reply 4 of 74
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,064member
    Absolutely impossible to believe. The whole raison d'être of the iPhone was predicated on two things, 1. a proper OS and 2. no keyboard.




    pscooter63SpamSandwich
  • Reply 5 of 74
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,150member
    Who is still at Apple and didn't sell out to Google?  That get's my vote ;)
    StrangeDaysuniscape
  • Reply 6 of 74
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,116member
    Even if he did...and? I'm sure every single kind of idea and course of action was discussed and thrown around when developing the iPhone. Steve Jobs did a shitload of 180s himself. He didn't even want an AppStore. Even if Schiller thought a KB might be best at some point in time, I'm not going to hold that against him or pretend he's unfit for the job because of it. 

    Also, I don't trust a word that comes out of Faddels mouth. It's well known that he consistently exaggerated his role and accomplishments at Apple in order to bring more legitimacy and hype to his new company (now sold out to Google of course). 
    StrangeDaysliketheskypscooter63gatorguylordjohnwhorfin
  • Reply 7 of 74
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,829member
    I don't trust Tony Fadell at all. There's a reason Apple never pursued Nest and Fadell is no longer at Google.
    cornchip
  • Reply 8 of 74
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,431member
    I'd like to hear the audio. Why isn't it published yet? :wink: 
    dysamoriajbdragonlordjohnwhorfin
  • Reply 9 of 74
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,021member
    In other fake news....
    Apple Book Store have annouced the new book in question can be found in fan fiction.
    SpamSandwichStrangeDays2old4fun
  • Reply 10 of 74
    robjnrobjn Posts: 203member
    You write
    Mechant "has a robust body of work"

    Robust?

    He has a history of hostility towards Apple. Not exactly the fair and balanced historian you want to write this kind of account.

    See
    https://daringfireball.net/linked/2017/06/13/a-bad-sign

    StrangeDaysnetmageanantksundaram
  • Reply 11 of 74
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,414member
    I'd like to hear the audio. Why isn't it published yet? :wink: 
    Presumably, you're suggesting it isn't posted anywhere because it doesn't exist?
    Merchant never had to claim it existed, though - up till then, he could claim
    "a misunderstanding"...but that pretty well locks him into that version.
    So, you think in the next couple days we'll hear him say, "my dog ate the recording"?
    (He has tape of the dog, burping...)
    Rayz2016
  • Reply 12 of 74
    kestralkestral Posts: 225member
    Come on Phil, have some "courage" and admit it.
    "Can't innovate anymore my ass".
  • Reply 13 of 74
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,347administrator
    robjn said:
    You write
    Mechant "has a robust body of work"

    Robust?

    He has a history of hostility towards Apple. Not exactly the fair and balanced historian you want to write this kind of account.

    See
    https://daringfireball.net/linked/2017/06/13/a-bad-sign

    He does have a lengthy production history, spanning the entire industry - thus, robust.

    I didn't comment on his particular slant.
  • Reply 14 of 74
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,862member
    I'm sensing a flop for this writer.
  • Reply 15 of 74
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,021member
    slurpy said:
    Even if he did...and? I'm sure every single kind of idea and course of action was discussed and thrown around when developing the iPhone. Steve Jobs did a shitload of 180s himself. He didn't even want an AppStore. Even if Schiller thought a KB might be best at some point in time, I'm not going to hold that against him or pretend he's unfit for the job because of it. 

    Also, I don't trust a word that comes out of Faddels mouth. It's well known that he consistently exaggerated his role and accomplishments at Apple in order to bring more legitimacy and hype to his new company (now sold out to Google of course). 
    I've seen a couple of design teams go off the rails because everyone just agree it was great idea and lost focus.
    Every good implimentation has a team member(s) that doesn't believe the hype. 
     
    gatorguy
  • Reply 16 of 74

    I think the whole extract is on the Verge or something.

    It goes on to say that Phil kept hankering for the physical keyboard and finally Steve got so pissed that he said something to the effect of having to resolve this immediately and asked Phil to shut the fuck up 'cause Phil was wrong.

    I'm not interested in paying $14.99 for this book.

  • Reply 17 of 74
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,277member
    robjn said:
    You write
    Mechant "has a robust body of work"

    Robust?

    He has a history of hostility towards Apple. Not exactly the fair and balanced historian you want to write this kind of account.

    See
    https://daringfireball.net/linked/2017/06/13/a-bad-sign

    You should probably grab a dictionary and look up the word "robust." Or just double-cick it here and get the Apple dictionary meaning. Hint: in the context used in the article it means "he's done a lot of work," ie a healthy body of writing. It was not a comment on his quality nor his editorial prejudices. As for the story, I'm inclined to believe Schiller and not Merchant, but as with a certain former director of a certain federal law enforcement agency, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."
    jony0
  • Reply 18 of 74
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,485member
    slurpy said:
    Even if he did...and? I'm sure every single kind of idea and course of action was discussed and thrown around when developing the iPhone. Steve Jobs did a shitload of 180s himself. He didn't even want an AppStore. Even if Schiller thought a KB might be best at some point in time, I'm not going to hold that against him or pretend he's unfit for the job because of it. 

    Also, I don't trust a word that comes out of Faddels mouth. It's well known that he consistently exaggerated his role and accomplishments at Apple in order to bring more legitimacy and hype to his new company (now sold out to Google of course). 
    Agreed. It doesn't matter at all but Schiller is a bit prone to impulsive comments. When you have Twitter nearby it doesn't make for a good combination. He should have spoken to Fadell first and Fadell would have told him the conversations were recorded. In that case Schiller should have asked him to retract what he said or, in the case of the claim being true, ride the storm (in a teacup to begin with) or just admit it was true and move on. A physical keyboard (at that time) might have even been a decent idea. It depends on how it is implemented. Saying it was incorrect when, indirectly, someone is supporting the claim and that the claim was recorded, is bound to make things worse.

    Something similar surely happened with the new MBP. I'm convinced that internally, Apple was divided on the thinness issue.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 19 of 74
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    avon b7 said:
    slurpy said:
    Even if he did...and? I'm sure every single kind of idea and course of action was discussed and thrown around when developing the iPhone. Steve Jobs did a shitload of 180s himself. He didn't even want an AppStore. Even if Schiller thought a KB might be best at some point in time, I'm not going to hold that against him or pretend he's unfit for the job because of it. 

    Also, I don't trust a word that comes out of Faddels mouth. It's well known that he consistently exaggerated his role and accomplishments at Apple in order to bring more legitimacy and hype to his new company (now sold out to Google of course). 
    Agreed. It doesn't matter at all but Schiller is a bit prone to impulsive comments. When you have Twitter nearby it doesn't make for a good combination. He should have spoken to Fadell first and Fadell would have told him the conversations were recorded. In that case Schiller should have asked him to retract what he said or, in the case of the claim being true, ride the storm (in a teacup to begin with) or just admit it was true and move on. A physical keyboard (at that time) might have even been a decent idea. It depends on how it is implemented. Saying it was incorrect when, indirectly, someone is supporting the claim and that the claim was recorded, is bound to make things worse.

    Something similar surely happened with the new MBP. I'm convinced that internally, Apple was divided on the thinness issue.
    Except Schiller has stated that he never wanted a keyboard on the iPhone. 

    Mechant didn't speak to Schiller; he spoke to Fadell  who is denying he said any such thing. So Schiller isn't actually making anything worse because this really doesn't have anything to do with him. 

    My guess is that Fadell foolishly said it in a moment of grandstanding and now he has to walk it back. 
    macplusplustmaymattinozStrangeDays
  • Reply 20 of 74
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    I am surprised Phil Schiller was a strong advocate for the hard keyboard as he was the one who came up with the innovative scroll wheel idea for the iPod at the time.

    Best is to verify the facts with other people that attended the early iPhone meetings. Something the author of the book should have done from the beginning …

    >:x
    tmaynetmagecolinng
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