Yet Another iPod Birth Story

17 Oct 2006 - 2:31am
7 years ago
10 replies
665 reads
Dan Saffer
2003

For those who can't get enough of Apple Lore...

http://www.wired.com/news/columns/cultofmac/0,71956-0.html?tw=rss.index

Although I think this is probably not true:

"Given the device's parts, the iPod's final shape was obvious. All
the pieces sandwiched naturally together into a thin box about the
size of a pack of cards.

"Sometimes things are really clear from the materials they are made
from, and this was one of those times," said Rubinstein. "It was
obvious how it was going to look when it was put together."

Uh huh. Right.

Comments

17 Oct 2006 - 9:26pm
Esteban Barahona
2006

...it wasn't obvious. The click wheel is a great concept, shouldn't it be
used for scrolling in any computer? It's much comfortable than using a
scroll (mouse) wheel... probably because it's circular. Why not add it to a
keyboard? next to the numbers pad maybe...

2006/10/17, Dan Saffer <dan en odannyboy.com>:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> For those who can't get enough of Apple Lore...
>
> http://www.wired.com/news/columns/cultofmac/0,71956-0.html?tw=rss.index
>
> Although I think this is probably not true:
>
> "Given the device's parts, the iPod's final shape was obvious. All
> the pieces sandwiched naturally together into a thin box about the
> size of a pack of cards.
>
> "Sometimes things are really clear from the materials they are made
> from, and this was one of those times," said Rubinstein. "It was
> obvious how it was going to look when it was put together."
>
> Uh huh. Right.
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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18 Oct 2006 - 9:24am
Jim Leftwich
2004

Hmmmm... I guess I don't know why you're so skeptical about what
Leander Kahney's reported here, Dan. It matches everything I've
heard from people who've talked to the same group of people mentioned
in the article.

And particularly the form factor, which followed in large part the
componentry. This isn't at all unusual in the development of
products. Particularly products that need to be as small as
possible, which the iPod definitely needed to be.

I don't find that to be the least unbelievable or surprising.

What I do think this thread is probably going to open up a discussion
of, however, is the schism that exists between those who know that
designers can sometimes, with a good deal of confidence, make fast,
decisive design efforts that are likely to solve a number of problems
and achieve success as products - and those that want to suggest that
such efforts, are at best, lucky guesses.

Not every problem or unfulfilled need out there requires massive
research efforts. Despite your, um, interesting linguistic exercise
in labeling these types of efforts, "genius design."

All of the principals discussed in the article were veteran
developers, whose career experiences, along with their intelligence
and talents, along with Jobs' fortunate ability to cut through the
kinds of corporate bureaucracy that generally bloats, waters down,
dumbs down, compromises, and otherwise dooms the vast majority of
products, systems, and services trying to get to the marketplace.

There's vast lessons to be learned from how Apple succeeded with the
iPod.

In my opinion, it's largely the Interaction Design community that
doesn't understand this. Or at least a large segment of the community.

Jim

James Leftwich, IDSA
Orbit Interaction
Palo Alto, California USA
http://www.orbitnet.com

On Oct 17, 2006, at 11:00 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:
>
> [IxDA Discuss] Yet Another iPod Birth Story
>
> For those who can't get enough of Apple Lore...
>
> http://www.wired.com/news/columns/cultofmac/0,71956-0.html?
tw=rss.index
>
> Although I think this is probably not true:
>
> "Given the device's parts, the iPod's final shape was obvious. All
the pieces sandwiched
> naturally together into a thin box about the size of a pack of cards.
>
> "Sometimes things are really clear from the materials they are
made from, and this was
> one of those times," said Rubinstein. "It was obvious how it was
going to look when it was
> put together."
>
> Uh huh. Right.

18 Oct 2006 - 1:59pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Oct 18, 2006, at 7:24 AM, James Leftwich, IDSA wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hmmmm... I guess I don't know why you're so skeptical about what
> Leander Kahney's reported here, Dan. It matches everything I've
> heard from people who've talked to the same group of people mentioned
> in the article.

I'm skeptical mostly because of the click wheel, which wasn't (and
still isn't) a very standard component in devices. And I'm certain
we're all aware that the same components can be assembled in many
different ways. Witness the proliferation of mobile phone form
factors, all from very similar components. Very few things,
especially a thing as nicely done as the iPod, simply snaps together.
The article made it seem easy, and I bet it wasn't.

>
> What I do think this thread is probably going to open up a discussion
> of, however, is the schism that exists between those who know that
> designers can sometimes, with a good deal of confidence, make fast,
> decisive design efforts that are likely to solve a number of problems
> and achieve success as products - and those that want to suggest that
> such efforts, are at best, lucky guesses.
>
> Not every problem or unfulfilled need out there requires massive
> research efforts. Despite your, um, interesting linguistic exercise
> in labeling these types of efforts, "genius design."

I wasn't suggesting you have to be a genius to practice what I call
"genius design" (although it helps!) The term for me means a type of
design that is done just as you describe here: relying on the
experience and intuition of the designer to make the necessary design
decisions. It's how most design is done, I'd argue. Perhaps "genius"
was the wrong word, but I wanted something to convey the internal and
intuitive nature of the method.

> In my opinion, it's largely the Interaction Design community that
> doesn't understand this. Or at least a large segment of the
> community.

The IxD community has emphasized UCD practices for a decade now. You
could argue over-emphasized. Which is why I put four approaches to
interaction design (UCD, activity-centered design, systems design,
and genius design) in my book.

Dan

18 Oct 2006 - 4:11pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Personally, I am hoping that the click wheel is translated into a
dialing process in the much rumored iPhone. But I can be a rather
retro guy at times. ;-)

Mark Schraad

18 Oct 2006 - 4:15pm
cherylkimble
2005

At 5:11 PM -0400 10/18/06, Mark Schraad wrote:
>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>Personally, I am hoping that the click wheel is translated into a
>dialing process in the much rumored iPhone.

ah yes, that would be wonderful.

does anyone have any info on the phone? i've been looking but am
coming up empty.

ck

18 Oct 2006 - 5:49pm
Esteban Barahona
2006

instead of a click wheel, why not use the standard cellphone numbers layout
but using touch-sensitive buttons (a hold will be important). What could be
the best layout used in an "iPhone" for cellphone-specific features?

2006/10/18, Mark Schraad <mschraad en mac.com>:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Personally, I am hoping that the click wheel is translated into a
> dialing process in the much rumored iPhone. But I can be a rather
> retro guy at times. ;-)
>
> Mark Schraad
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss en ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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>

18 Oct 2006 - 5:58pm
Mark Schraad
2006

OK - this was really just a smart a$$ stupid comment. It was
certainly not meant to start a speculative iPhone brainstorring
session. If you are interested in what the rabid apple fans think it
should look like, you can view the gallery:

http://www.appleiphone.blogspot.com/

Plenty of derivative models as well as some just plain bad stuff.

Mark

On Oct 18, 2006, at 6:49 PM, Esteban Barahona wrote:

> instead of a click wheel, why not use the standard cellphone
> numbers layout but using touch-sensitive buttons (a hold will be
> important). What could be the best layout used in an "iPhone" for
> cellphone-specific features?
>
> 2006/10/18, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com>:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Personally, I am hoping that the click wheel is translated into a
> dialing process in the much rumored iPhone. But I can be a rather
> retro guy at times. ;-)
>
> Mark Schraad
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

18 Oct 2006 - 6:27pm
Arias, Jovino
2006

Just wait until you try to send an SMS with that beast. Then you'll be
running back to a standard telephone keypad in no time.

I've always been amazed at the Nokia circular keypad as well. Bring back
the retro just for the sake of being fun and hip does not always
translate into functional. I imagine a day when people will once again
be using push mowers. Hand-cranked drills and manually pumping water
from a well.

Ahh, I miss the old days.

jovino
falcon studios

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
> Behalf Of Mark Schraad
> Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 2:12 PM
> To: Dan Saffer; discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Yet Another iPod Birth Story
>
> Personally, I am hoping that the click wheel is translated into a
> dialing process in the much rumored iPhone. But I can be a rather
> retro guy at times. ;-)

20 Oct 2006 - 1:44am
Dave Chiu
2006

Not to instigate a thread regression, but FWIW, there's another
(older) article in Wired about the birth of the iPod (Wired seems to
like these kinds of stories!):

Inside Look at Birth of the IPod: http://www.wired.com/news/mac/
0,64286-0.html

The part I find particularly interesting concerns the polycarbonate
containers they placed the components into while testing
functionality. In the most recent article all that's said about them is:

> To make them easy to debug, prototypes were built inside
> polycarbonate containers about the size of a large shoebox.
(Straight Dope on the IPod's Birth: http://wired.com/news/columns/
cultofmac/0,71956-1.html)

But in the older article:
> Knauss said all the iPod prototypes -- and there were several --
> were sealed tight inside a reinforced plastic box about the size of
> a shoebox.
>
> "They put the buttons and the screen in creative locations all over
> the box so people couldn't tell what product was inside it and how
> small it was," Knauss said. "They always put the controls in
> different places -- the scroll wheel on the side, the screen on the
> top -- to make sure it wasn't predictable what the end design was.
> The only thing accessible was the jacks."
...making the whole "birth of the iPod" story rather Rashomon-esque.

dave

20 Oct 2006 - 3:18pm
jeanpierre at g...
2006

On 10/18/06, Arias, Jovino <jovino at falconstudios.com> wrote:

> Just wait until you try to send an SMS with that beast. Then you'll be
> running back to a standard telephone keypad in no time.

an interesting paper titled "An Intuitive Text Input Method for Touch
Wheels" was presented at CHI last year in montréal and touched on
precisely this topic:
<http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=1124772.1124842>

On 10/18/06, cheryl kimble <cheryl at marginalized.com> wrote:

> does anyone have any info on the phone? i've been looking but am
> coming up empty.

there is no information to find, only wild speculation.

cheers,
jean-pierre

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