Jon Rubenstein wasn’t keen on an iPhone-like device in 2005

Mon, Jun 8, 2009

Apple History, News

Seeing as how the Palm Pre has been the focus of the tech world as of late, there have been quite a few write-ups about former Apple executive and current Palm director Jon Rubenstein.  Throwing our hat into the ring, we came across this quote Rubenstein gave to a German newspaper in September 2005.  When asked about music devices and cellphones converging into 1 device, Rubenstein wasn’t too keen on the idea.

I call it the grand combination theory. Many companies believe in it, but I don’t.

Look around your kitchen.

Do you have a toaster that also brews coffee? There is no such combined device, because it would not make anything better than an individual toaster or coffee machine.  It works the same way with the iPod, the digital camera or mobile phone: it is important to have specialized devices.”

We find the quote interesting because it shows how quickly things move in the tech world.  A little over 2 years after Runbenstein expressed the above, Steve Jobs took the stage at MacWorld and delivered one of the best, if not the best, keynote presentations of his career when he introduced the original iPhone.  Now it’s very possible that by September 2005, the seeds for what would eventually go on to become the iPhone had already been planted.  But it’s also possible that an iPhone-like device, at that time, was so beyond the realm of comprehension that even Rubenstein didn’t see the point of combining a music player and a smartphone.

And now, less than 4 years after giving that interview, Rubenstein is being praised for helping Palm deliver the Palm Pre, a device which ironically does a whole lot more than just play music and make calls.


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Örjan Larsson Says:

    Steve Jobs said similiar things at the same time. Keep it low, until you release that product that shows that an integrated phone, MP3 player and everything actually is an good idea.

  2. robinson Says:

    Didn’t he ever own a toaster oven?! Of course, that’s not a great example as the toaster part doesn’t work as well as a real toaster.

    Oh, I know– all-in-one printers… fax, scan, copy, and printer… they combined them and they’re the cat’s meow!

    I just hope that Jobs dumping on ebooks the other years also presage a move in that direction.

  3. Jared Says:

    The analogy isn’t great because iPod/smartphone are so similar (small hardware differences, the rest is strictly software) and coffee maker and toaster have such different hardware.

    The other big difference is that you don’t carry your toaster and coffee around together with you. If you needed to, it would make sense to try to combine them if they actually shared common components, which the iPod and iPhone DO.

  4. Neil Anderson Says:

    What a rube.

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