Ina Fried

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Apple’s Scott Forstall on How “Project Purple” Became the iPhone

Apple iOS head Scott Forstall testified on Friday that he had a really tough challenge as he tried in 2004 to assemble a team to build the iPhone, or “Project Purple” as it was known then.

Adam Tow /

Forstall said that late Apple chief Steve Jobs put Forstall in charge of building all of the software for the phone. But he told Forstall that he could not hire anyone from outside the company. And, of course, Apple had never built a phone.

“This was a real challenge,” Forstall testified.

And, while he could recruit anyone from inside Apple he wanted, he couldn’t tell them the project they would be working on or even who they would report to. Forstall testified that his pitch was to find “superstars” from throughout Apple.

“We’re starting another project,” he would tell those he brought into his office. “It’s so secret I cannot tell you what the project is.”

Rather than say they needed to take his offer, Forstall would tell them they would probably have a great career even if they turned him down.

Plus, he promised little but long hours if they accepted the offer.

“You are going to have to give up nights and weekends probably for a couple years,” he said.

Some sales pitch. That said, Forstall said he managed to get some amazingly talented people.

The team took one of Apple’s Cupertino buildings and locked it down. It started with a single floor with badge readers and cameras. In some cases, even workers on the team would have to show their badges five or six times.

The goal was to create a phone that the Apple employees themselves wanted to carry, Forstall said.

“We wanted something that was a great phone,” he said. “We wanted to do it from whole cloth.”

Forstall said that the company also wanted a means to deliver the true Internet, unlike current phone browsers of the time, which used a technology called WAP.

“It really gave you this baby Web, this dumbed-down Web,” Forstall said.

Earlier on Friday, Apple’s Phil Schiller talked about the early days of the iPhone and iPad as well as the considerable ad budget that the company used to help make the products household names.

And, as always, here’s our cheat sheet to the case.

Update, 1:39 p.m.: Forstall talked about some of the early work on the iPhone — in particular, pinch and zoom and scrolling, which is central to one of the patents at issue.

Now, Samsung lawyer Kevin Johnson is starting his cross-examination.

1:46 p.m.: Aiming to show that Apple got inspiration from Samsung while developing the iPhone, Johnson introduces a 2005 email from Steve Jobs making reference to a Samsung phone with a scroll wheel-like interface and asking for thoughts from Jony Ive and others.

Samsung is also showing other competitive analysis from the iPhone team, including a “mini-teardown” of one of Samsung’s Galaxy S phones.

Johnson is also using this to point out some of the differences between Samsung’s phones and the iPhone, such as Android, the Swype keyboard, TouchWiz user interface.

1:57 p.m.: Asked if Apple ever had a 7-inch Galaxy Tab tablet in its possession, Forstall said “I do know that Eddy Cue once used it for a little while.”

Apple versus Samsung Full Coverage


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