The original iPhone pioneered the age of multitouch smartphones – it was the first device of it’s kind, and nearly every smartphone released from that point forward was relatively buttonless. But according to Tony Fadell, former Senior Vice President of the iPod division, that almost wasn’t the case.
In a recent episode of On The Verge, Fadell, who worked on every iPhone through the 3GS, as well as 18 generations of iPods, revealed something very interesting: That Apple seriously considered using a hardware keyboard for the iPhone before changing their mind and moving forward with a strictly touch-based design.
Fadell revealed that there were three different versions of the iPhone under consideration, “an ‘iPod + Phone,’ a different iteration that was called the ‘iPhone,’ and finally, the device that was ultimately introduced back in January of 2007.
As for Fadell’s own thoughts, he stated that he realized the potential of virtual keyboards, and chose to wait and take the necessary time to make sure the iPhone could implement one.
It’s interesting to imagine how the iPhone would have been different with a physical keyboard, or how it would have changed the smartphone industry. Would you have held off buying an iPhone if it had a physical keyboard?
*Update: Besides the physical keypad, Apple also tested an iPhone with an iPod click wheel and another design which eventually became the iPhone we know today. Check out the below video from On The Verge. The full episode is available via iTunes.