As expected, Steve Jobs’ interview at Tuesday’s All Things D conference was an in-depth and rich affair that touched on a number of interesting topics. While we’ll have more in-depth coverage later on, one particularly interesting exchange centered on how the iPhone came to be, and how it actually sprung up from work on developing a tablet.
First, Jobs describes how Apple’s tablet approach differed from Microsoft’s “it must have a stylus!” strategy:
I remember telling you I thought handwriting was the slowest input method ever. We reimagined the tablet, we didn’t do what MSFT did. They had a totally different idea than us. And that drove everything. There tablet was based on a PC. It had the battery life, the weight, it needed a cursor like a PC. But the minute you throw a stylus out, you have the precision of a finger, you can’t use a PC OS. You have to create it from scratch.
Next, Mossberg asked Jobs why they built the iPhone OS for a phone first and not for a tablet. Well, it turns out that Jobs envisioned a tablet device long before the idea of Apple entering the phone business was even on the table.
I’ll tell you. Actually. It started on a tablet first.
I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on. I asked our people about it. And six months later they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He then got inertial scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, ‘my god, we can build a phone with this’ and we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the phone.