19 incredible Apple secrets revealed in court

Aug 09, 2012

JP Mangalindan has been a staff writer at Fortune since 2010, writing frequently about technology.

A trial to remember...

After a contentious three-week patent trial between Apple and Samsung, jurors awarded Apple $1.05 billion and concluded that Samsung "willfully" infringed several Apple patents. The legal battle was significant for the normally clandestine company. Lawyers managed to get Apple talking in ways it never had, from telling emails between executives to weird and wonderful iPhone prototypes. Here are the juiciest revelations.

"Crazy" ideas

With the iPod's success, the big question was what would Apple do next? "There were many things that led to the iPhone at Apple," said Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller during the trial. That led to some out-of-the-box brainstorming. "Apple employees tossed around ideas like making a camera, a car, and other 'crazy stuff.'"

Eddy Cue's email to Tim Cook

Although Steve Jobs had publicly dismissed the idea of a 7-inch iPad -- even going so far as to call the form factor "DOA" -- an email from Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services to CEO Tim Cook in January 2011 reveals Jobs was actually "very receptive" to the idea.

Recruiting for the "Purple Project"

In 2004, Jobs tasked Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS software, to form an in-house team to develop what would eventually become the iPhone's user interface. "We're starting another project," Forstall told potential recruits. "It's so secret I cannot tell you what the project is. You are going to have to give up nights and weekends for a couple years."

The "Purple Project's" top-notch security

Apple is particularly known for its secrecy, but security on The Purple Project went above and beyond: employees worked in a separate area, and security cameras were set up. "We put a sign up that said "Fight Club,'" Forstall said, a reference to the Brad Pitt film, which the team, emulated, if only in part. "The first rule of 'Fight Club' is you don't talk about 'Fight Club.'"

Forstall's patent

Users who double-tap Web pages on their iPhones to quickly zoom-in have Forstall to thank. When Forstall was surfing the Web on an iPhone prototype, he realized he was wasting time pinching and zooming the page to fit text on the screen. "I realized I have this incredibly powerful device, why can't it figure out the right size for me?" he said during his testimony. That's when he tasked his team to figure out a shortcut.

iPhone prototypes

Apple toyed with the iPhone's aesthetic quite a lot before arriving at the final design. Here, the company went for a sharper, boxy look.

The 8-sided iPhone

Would an octagonal iPhone have sold as well? Maybe not. But Apple's designers toyed with the idea before tossing it.

The rounded iPhone

In stark contrast to the boxy iPhone prototype, here Apple played around with curves. While this design more closely resembles the final iPhone, the back is more rounded.

The ogee-style iPhone

In some ways, this iPhone prototype is the most drastic of designs, with an ogee-style metallic back that dips in the back, making for a slimmer bottom.

The tall-and-skinny iPhone

To call this version the veritable supermodel of iPhone designs wouldn't exactly be a stretch. At glance, it appears to be almost double the length of other models.

Taking a page from the iPod Mini

One direction Apple's designers contemplated was lending the iPhone an all-around aluminum case borrowed from the first and second-generation iPod Mini, with rounded sides and harsher corners. Would fun color options have been in the cards, too? We'll never know.

The final iPhone design

Though Apple's design team went from iPhone prototype to prototype deliberating, the final decision seemingly boiled down to gut instinct. Admitted Stringer: "It was the most beautiful of our designs... When we realized what we got, we knew."

The kitchen table

When Apple's industrial designers, a group of 15 or 16, drum up the looks for the company's products -- the iPhone, included -- it's done so family-style around a kitchen table. "We'll sit there with our sketch books and trade ideas," veteran designer Chris Stringer testified, who referred to the team as a pretty maniacal group of people. In fact, the group may end up with 50 designs for one single button. Said Stringer: "That's where the really hard, brutal honest criticism comes in."

Most iPhone users want a case

Apple may be all about purity of design, but for millions of iPhone users, protecting their gear is just as important. An internal company survey revealed that 78% of all iPhone users buy cases.

What customer feedback?

While many companies survey customers for feedback on products, Apple continues to do the opposite. "We never go and ask the customer 'what features do you want in the next product?'" Schiller said on the stand. "It's not the customer's job to know. We accumulate that information ourselves."

Marketing expenses revealed

Believe it or not, the iPad cost more to market in the U.S. during its first year than the iPhone. In 2008, Apple spent $97.5 million on iPhone ads in the U.S., compared with the $149.5 million it spent on the iPad in 2010.

The iPad, prototyped

Just like the iPhone before it, Apple's designers explored many potential looks for its tablet. Here's one early -- and very rough -- digital model. Missing from the front? The now-ubiquitous home button.

The marshmallow iPad

This thick, white iPad, seemingly fashioned out of plastic, resembles the now defunct $999 13-inch MacBooks of the past.

iPad with kickstand

When Microsoft announced that its Surface tablet would have a kickstand, some tech media cheered the inclusion. But it seems years earlier, Apple played with the idea, too.

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