10 reasons why I’ll miss Phil Schiller

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As Phil Schiller steps down from his role as Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, it's clear the company won't be the same without him.
It won't be the same without him.
Photo: Globovisión/Flickr CC

For long-time Apple fans like myself, Tuesday marked the end of an era. Phil Schiller stepped down from his role as VP of worldwide marketing.

Schiller was the last of the OG — a stalwart onstage companion to Steve Jobs, long before it was fashionable to watch Apple keynotes. Schiller was there at all the seminal moments in Apple history, including the launch of iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Back in the day, he and Jobs were a remarkable double act. Jobs would announce the products, and then Schiller would stride in to perform the demos.

Fortunately, Schiller’s not gone for good. In his new role as an Apple Fellow, he will still keep an eye on the App Store and Apple Events. But I wanted to take this opportunity to remember the man, the legend, that is Phil Schiller. Here are the top 10 reasons why I’ll miss him.

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1. Phil performed a death jump live onstage

The iBook was the first mainstream computer sold with “AirPort” integrated wireless networking. (Today it’s more commonly known as “Wi-Fi”). To demonstrate this feature, Jobs persuaded Schiller to jump from a 20-foot height live onstage while holding an iBook. It was one of the most extraordinary moments in Stevenote history.

2. Phil invented the iPod click wheel

iPod launched with the proud claim of putting “1,000 songs in your pocket.” This presented a unique user interface challenge. How would users scroll through such a long list of songs on such a small device? Phil Schiller came to the rescue with the idea of a click wheel that gave the iPod its unique, iconic appearance.

3. That time Phil said ‘can’t innovate anymore, my ass!’

After the passing of Steve Jobs, some questioned whether Apple still had its innovative mojo. But Schiller wasn’t having it. Upon unveiling the (ill-fated) cylindrical Mac Pro, he quipped, “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass!” What followed was one of the most innovative periods in Apple’s history, including the launch of Apple Watch, AirPods and iPhone X.

4. Phil used to call the iMac ‘MacMan’

iMac was the first in a series of hit products that all started with the “i” prefix, including today’s iPhone and iPad. But it didn’t always have such a catchy name. According to the book Apple Revolution, written by our very own Luke Dormehl, its original working title was “MacMan.” This terrible code name was coined by Schiller and Steve Jobs as a joke because they wanted to come up with a name as good as Sony’s Walkman.

5. Those cartoon images Phil used as his profile pics

For years, Schiller used a weird comic book character as his profile pic on Twitter. It looked like the illicit love child of Cyclops and Space Ghost. In reality, the character is Racer X, from 1960s cartoon Speed Racer (which Schiller once called one of his favorites).

Previously, Schiller used Marine Boy and the actual Space Ghost as his Twitter avatar, but he switched to Racer X sometime in the run-up to the 2017 launch of the iPhone X. Coincidence? (Who knows, maybe Schiller is also related to Fred Schiller, who once wrote a Racer X comic book.)

Phil Schiller's Twitter profile pic used to be the cartoon character Racer X.
Phil Schiller’s formerly used cartoon character Racer X for his Twitter profile pic.
Photo: Twitter

6. When Phil demoed iChat upside down

Long before fellow Apple execs Craig Federighi and Eddy Cue started cracking jokes about Hair Force One and Karaoke King, Jobs and Schiller found ways to inject humor into their keynote presentations. They made a great comedy double act. Take, for instance, that time they demoed iChat video calls and Phil took a swig of coffee while hanging upside down.

7. The time Phil filled in for Steve

In 2009, while Steve Jobs was taking a medical leave of absence, Phil Schiller filled in for him by presenting a keynote at Macworld New York. The products unveiled proved evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but it was the symbolism that really counted. By delegating the task to Schiller, Jobs showed he trusted him to get the job done.

8. When Phil set the record straight

It seems bizarre now, but prior to iPhone, smartphones came with fiddly little physical keyboards. iPhone’s revolutionary touchscreen design transformed the entire industry. It’s little wonder that, when a rumor surfaced that Schiller had wanted to include a plastic keyboard, he was so quick to quash it.

9. NFW: When Phil puts his foot down

There’s no doubt that Schiller is a marketing genius, but his influence at Apple extends way beyond the marketing department. When he doesn’t like the direction a product is taking, he puts his foot down in no uncertain terms. Rumor has it he’s even been know to send memos saying “no f**king way” when he doesn’t like what he sees.

10. Phil has great taste in football teams

One of my favorite Phil facts is that he’s a fellow Patriots fan. It can be tough when the team you support is so consistently successful. People get jealous. It’s a problem Phil knows only too well from his many years as a star player on another legendary team.