Steve Jobs: Apple's Early iPad Plans Led to the iPhone Instead

Steve Jobs: Apple's Early iPad Plans Led to the iPhone Instead
Steve Jobs: Apple's Early iPad Plans Led to the iPhone Instead

Apple's (AAPL) wildly popular iPhone was released in 2007 and quickly disrupted the mobile industry, paving the way for a flood of smart phones featuring thousands of applications. Apple's iPad tablet computer was released in April 2010 and has sold 2 million units.

But Apple's plans for the iPad actually predated its concept for the iPhone.

At a tech conference in California Tuesday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the the inspiration for the iPhone's operating system came from an experimental tablet computer Jobs invented in the mid-2000s. Answering a question at the AllThingsD D8 conference, Jobs revealed that the iPhone OS was originally designed for a tablet device but was so impressive that Apple used it as the basis for the iPhone.

No Stylus, No Problem

"I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on," Jobs explained, according to Engadget editor Joshua Topolsky. "I asked our people about it. And six months later, they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI [user interface] guys. He then got inertial scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, 'My God, we can build a phone with this,' and we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the phone."

In his comments, Jobs seemed to suggest that part of what motivated him to work on the iPad was the infamous failure of Apple's Newton device -- a '90s-era tablet-like device that relied on a stylus for data input. He said that such a data input mechanism had crippled earlier tablets.

He contrasted Apple's ambitions to reinvent a tablet with Microsoft's (MSFT) efforts. "We re-imagined the tablet, we didn't do what MSFT [Microsoft] did. They had a totally different idea than us. And that drove everything. Their tablet was based on a PC. It had the battery life, the weight, it needed a cursor like a PC. But the minute you throw a stylus out, you have the precision of a finger, you can't use a PC OS. You have to create it from scratch."

PC's Are Like Old Trucks

During his talk, Jobs predicted the end of personal computer -- which Apple helped invent -- as the primary portal for individual computing. To make his point, Jobs used an analogy from the history of industrialization.

"When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks," Jobs stated. "But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy."