“It is an article of Faith, of course, that whatever Steve Jobs does, is Right. And so, since the iPhone currently has no keyboard on it, it must logically follow that it is wrong to have a keyboard, and therefore that Steve Jobs will never produce a version that does have a keyboard.
Fervent fans can therefore see no reason to change the iPhone from its current ‘type on the touch screen, or not at all’ design. As one of the more zealous remarked when the suggestion was even mentioned: ‘The only people who think it needs a keyboard, are people who have never used it.’
Rumours from inside Cupertino suggest that Jobs himself doesn’t have this sort of religious hangup about his own work. Reports from inside mobile operators show that whether or not he ever makes it work, he is already trying to make a ‘slide-out’ keyboard for a corporate version of the iPhone.”
Jobs is, of course, well known for insisting that something isn’t a viable product, and that no one could possibly want one – right up until the day he launches it. See, for example, his half-decade insistence that the future of the Mac was PowerPC, while he sensibly produced a version which ran on Intel.
(Which reminds me of an example from history, as told to me by one of the former Newton team. Jobs called him and some other Newtoneers into a meeting, in which he held up a Newton. Pointing at it, he said “Apple makes computers. Computer have keyboards. This thing doesn’t have a keyboard.” And, leaving them to draw the inference out himself, he ended the meeting. Fast forward to today, and Apple makes rather a large chunk of money from computers which have no keyboard. Only now, they’re called “iPhone”.)
One thing that anyone watching Apple always needs to bare in mind is this: while Jobs is idolised by a cloud of true believers, he is, in fact, capable of performing strategic back-flips faster than almost anyone in the industry. While the true believers laud whatever thing they think is “the one true way”, Jobs will drop it like a ragged old hat as soon as he believes it’s to Apple’s advantage.
Jobs is ruled by only one true belief: Make the best, deepest, most elegant products you can, preferably with the biggest margin you can get away with.
It’s one of the reasons why I like him.