How Steve Jobs Got AT&T To Let Him Make The iPhone Without A Keyboard



Even for a guy like Steve Jobs, you don’t just wake up one day knowing how to build a phone, let alone the iPhone. So when Jobs had questions about the nitty-gritty of mobile phone design back in 2006, he called up AT&T (then Cingular’s) COO, Ralph de la Vega, for help… but in typical Steve fashion, he became angry when Cingular told him his phone needed to have physical keys.

Back when Steve Jobs was trying to figure out how to make the iPhone, he called up de la Vega and asked him about smartphone radio designs, asking, “How to you make this device be a really good phone? I’m not talking about how to build a keyboard and things like that. But I’m saying the innards of a radio that works well.”

So de la Vega sent Steve Jobs Cingular’s standard manual for suppliers looking to build phones for their network. Unfortunately, the first hundred pages were all about how to make a good keyboard for your phone… not about the radio design.

de la Vega reminisced to Forbes:

‘Well, send it to me.’ So I sent him an e-mail. Thirty seconds, he calls me back. ‘Hey, what the … ? What’s going on? You’re sending me this big document, and the first 100 pages have to do with the standard keyboard,’ ” de la Vega says, laughing. ‘ ‘Sorry we didn’t take those first 100 pages out, Steve. Forget those 100 pages. Those don’t apply to you.’ He says, ‘Okay,’ and he hangs up the phone.

Apparently, though, de la Vega telling Steve Jobs that “those first hundred pages don’t apply to you” would have professional repercussions: de la Vega was accused of blasphemy by Cingular’s CTO for telling Apple they didn’t have to follow guidelines, and was called crazy for giving in to Apple. Crazy… like a fox, right?

Source: Forbes