Senior Vice President of iOS Scott Forstall has been called to testify this afternoon in the Apple vs. Samsung legal battle. In his testimony, he gives some great behind the scenes looks at the creation of the iPhone and the iPad.
The Verge had some great minute by minute coverage of Mr. Forstall’s testimony, we’re going to cover the high points. (Read that as “We’re only going to include the interesting stuff.”)
Forstall has been with Apple for fifteen years and was one of the main forces behind the creation of the iPhone.
To kick off the questioning, Forstall was asked how he met Steve Jobs. Forstall related how he was interviewing for a job at NeXT, the company Steve Jobs founded after leaving Apple back in the 80’s, when Steve Jobs burst into the room. Jobs asked him a few questions, then told him that eventually he would be getting an offer — and that it was expected he would take that offer.
After a brief lunch break, Forstall returned to the witness stand, and talked about the origins of the iPad. In 2003, the “team” was wondering “could we make a beautiful tablet without a keyboard, without a hinge, where you have to fold it like a laptop.”
In 2004 they had a conversation about phones. Everyone hated the phones they had. “Could we use the technology we were doing with touch that we’d been prototyping for this tablet, and could we use that for a phone… So we took that tablet and took a small scrolling list… We built a small corner of it as a list of contacts…. You could tap on the contact, it would slide over and show you the information… It was just amazing. We realized that a touchscreen of the size that would fit in your pocket would be perfect for these phones.”
Steve Jobs OK’ed the development of what turned out to be the iPhone, but he gave Forstall a difficult restraint, “he didn’t want, for secrecy reasons, for anyone outside of Apple to work on the user interface… So I had to find people within Apple to work on that. But he told me I could move anyone within the company to that team.”
Forstall then described how he would bring “superstars” in the company into his office and tell them only this: “We’re starting a new project. It’s so secret I can’t even tell you what that project is. I can’t tell you who you will work for. What I can tell you is that if you accept this project you will work nights, you will work weekends, probably for a number of years.”
Forstall said they were building a phone for themselves, they wanted to build a phone that was a computer in your pocket.
The iPhone was a risk to Apple based solely on resources available. Forstall said the company actually moved out the release of other projects because of the people they took off of those projects to put them on the iPhone.
Apple took over a whole building on the Cupertino campus, just to develop the iPhone. The building was locked down with security card readers. They used colors for product code names. “Purple” was the name of the original iPhone. The development building for the device was called the Purple Dorm. And it was like a dorm. “People were there all the time… It smelled something like pizza, and in fact on the front door of the Purple Dorm we put a sign up that said ‘Fight Club’… because the first rule of that project was to not talk about it outside those doors.”
Forstall then covered some of the iOS utility patents. The tap-to-zoom patent is the first. Forstall said the idea came to him while using early versions of the device. “I remember as we built the iPhone I spent a lot of time using the early prototypes myself. I would use them to send all my emails, to browse the web. Basically anything I could do on the prototype I would do on the prototype instead of the computer.” He said he then challenged the team to implement the double-tap feature that was seen when the iPhone was announced in 2007.
When asked if that feature was difficult to implement, he replied absolutely. “Understanding that structure, and the structure the user cares about is a challenge.” He said he thinks the feature is a standout element.
Samsung counsel Kevin Johnson then stepped up to question Forstall.
Johnson asked about deposition testimony that Forstall was concerned about the iPhone processor’s speed up against competitors such as Samsung , Forstall replied, “I had concerns that I wanted to be as fast as possible, yes.”
Forstsall was then asked if he remembers looking at a Samsung phone with a click-wheel control during the design process. He replied no. Johnson introduced an email from Tony Fadell that was sent to Jony Ive, Steve Jobs, Jon Rubinstein, and Forstall in which Fadell describes his own impression of the SGH-E910.
A reply from Steve Jobs: “This may be our answer — we could put the number pad around our clickwheel.”
Johnson shows another email from Fadell to the team, this one with a press release for a new Samsung phone. Johnson tries to suggest it was another example of Apple executives copying Samsung.
Another email is brought up, this one about the team buying various phones in order to compare feature sets. Forstall said this was to compare dropped call performance.
Forstall was then shown an email from Eddy Cue in which he says he had used a Samsung Galaxy Tab, and believes there will be a 7-inch market, and that Apple should do one. Cue mentions in the email that, “I expressed this to Steve several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time.”
Apple counsel then took over questioning once more, and Forstall was asked if we’ll see any evidence in this trial that Apple, or Apple executives, instructed anyone to copy Samsung designs. “I never directed anyone to copy anything from Samsung.” he replied, “We wanted to build something great, and we thought we could build something better than anyone had built. There was no reason to look to them on this.“