Client Story: Reinventing the phone

Someone lent across a white table in a white room with no windows in a secure section of the Apple Campus. He put his thumb and forefinger to his head and smiled. The universal gesture for “phone”. This was the next big thing.

The mobile internet was still in its early days with limited 3G bandwidth and consequently no products took full advantage of the possibilities of mobile internet. A new medium, a new platform, a new chapter in the rapid development of personal technology was on the horizon. 

Nokia had started to call their internet enabled devices “Communicators”, giving up their attachment to the concept of a phone. Yet people prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar and the iPhone was born. It built on years of OSX marketing, took advantage of the branded Safari browser, made the iPod more fun and, of course, was a cellphone. 

Apple had invested in Apple.com and helped people “get the most out of Apple products”. Icons developed for OSX became tiles on iPhone. Apple’s now legendary product design ethic created a product as finely tuned as a Swiss Watch. 

Most people did not benefit from the features of their “smart phone” which, in the launch script became a focus: “Most smart phones are not that smart and none are easy to use”. 

Our strategy was simple: help people get the most out of the product. It came from the retail experience and the history of Mac OS and OSX.

Watching the launch again on YouTube reminds me of how disciplined the launch was and how focussed SJ was on positioning the product with deadly clarity.

The rigor of the Marcom Group and the trust they had built with Product Marketing meant that the essential tool for good creative development, critique, fine tuned the story until it was as elegant and as effective as the product itself. Which was always our goal.

Design can shape culture. Simplicity implies ease of use and beauty adds quality. The packaging was as impressive as the product. At every stage the experience of the customer was put first. Not the limitations of the carrier. Cingular took the plunge and partnered with Apple. The infrastructure evolved to meet demand rather than restrict it. After the launch the management of RIM gave up and Blackberry was dead. Nokia became part of Microsoft. Microsoft then gave up also. None could match the clarity of Apple’s vision evident in the product and how it worked.

Apple had reinvented the phone.