Wall Street Journal reports on iPhone’s birth

In a front page article entitled “How Steve Jobs Played Hardball In iPhone Birth,” the Wall Street Journal offers a glimpse of how the iPhone came to be. The in-depth article has many details that were not previously revealed, including the fact that only three Cingular executives got to see the iPhone before it was announced. A snippet from the article (paid subscription required) is below.

Early on, both sides determined it would be a bad idea for Apple to offer its own cellphone service, leasing access to Cingular’s network. Even though Virgin Mobile USA and other startup cellphone operators were using that method with some success, Mr. Jobs was cautious. He viewed the cellphone business as an unforgiving one, where carriers are blamed for network problems and overwhelmed by customer complaints.

Instead, he wanted to focus on building a good handset. Cingular, realizing that Motorola’s device “didn’t feel like an Apple phone,” according to one executive involved in handset decisions, was willing to give Mr. Jobs room to come up with something.

Apple assembled a development team to build the iPhone that quickly mushroomed into hundreds of people. Mr. Jobs worked closely with Jonathan Ive, the design guru at Apple who was responsible for the look of the iPod and other products, to come up with a head-turning design for the iPhone.

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