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New book sheds light on the iPhone’s secret history

A forthcoming book titled “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone” sets out to detail how the iPhone was brought into existence over the course of 3 pressure-filled years over at 1 Infinite Loop. Penned by Brian Merchant and set to hit store shelves next week, the book provides us with an unprecedented inside look at the iPhone’s development process based on numerous interviews with many important players, including the podfather himself Tony Fadell.

Though the book’s release is still a few days away, an enthralling and captivating excerpt from the book was published on The Verge earlier this week. Indeed, the timing couldn’t be better given that we’re just two weeks away from celebrating the iPhone’s 10th anniversary.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the excerpt has also proven to be extremely controversial and regards Phil Schiller’s role in the development of the iPhone. As is already well-known, Steve Jobs during the iPhone development process tasked two teams with coming up with iPhone prototypes. One team was tasked with turning the iPod into a phone while the other team — led by Scott Forstall — was tasked with creating an advanced smartphone running a modified version of OS X. As we all know now, Jobs ultimately ended up siding with Forstall’s team. Interestingly, though, the excerpt relays that Schiller wasn’t a fan of either of the two designs.

The iPod phone was losing support. The executives debated which project to pursue, but Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing, had an answer: Neither. He wanted a keyboard with hard buttons. The BlackBerry was arguably the first hit smartphone. It had an email client and a tiny hard keyboard. After everyone else, including Fadell, started to agree that multitouch was the way forward, Schiller became the lone holdout.

He “just sat there with his sword out every time, going, ‘No, we’ve got to have a hard keyboard. No. Hard keyboard.’ And he wouldn’t listen to reason as all of us were like, ‘No, this works now, Phil.’ And he’d say, ‘You gotta have a hard keyboard!’ ” Fadell says.

Hardly a favorable portrayal, Schiller took to Twitter last night to refute the claims above.

Not too long after, Fadell also chimed in on Twitter alleging that he had been misquoted and that he’d like the story to be corrected.

With the plot thickening, author Brian Merchant claims that he has Fadell’s remarks recorded and on the record.

The excerpt is well worth checking out in its entirety for anyone with an interest in how the most profitable device in the history of consumer electronics came to be.

With the book still a few days away, you can read up on some previously secret tidbits about the iPhone that emerged during Apple’s trial with Samsung over here, including a selection of original iPhone prototypes that never saw the light of day. A few of these photos can be seen below.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.