The iPhone is a remix


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One of the iPhone’s smartphone predecessors was the Sony Ericsson P900. Since there weren’t many overviews online showing the similarities, I put one together myself.

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"Two mutually exclusive ideas are often voiced: first, that Apple’s a shameless thief, and second, that its products are revolutionary. "

Those aren’t actually mutually exclusive. You can revolutionize shameless thievery. Or have a revolution over here while thieving over there. Or both. (Which is mostly where I’d put Apple.)

I used similar Motorola linux-based ones (a780 & a1200) from the same time frame… They were quite popular in asian countries.

Man, now I feel like a fool.

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I remember when the iPhone came out in 2007, many folks in Japan were commenting that it was rather unexciting compared to Japanese smartphones of the day.


The essense of Apple’s approach was to take existing products and develop them to their logical conclusion, so that they couldn’t get any simpler or more elegant. Basically, Jobs knew when a product was good enough to be a world-changer. Most other companies stop short of that level of development.

Especially that part where they twisted poor little Cingular’s arm to take on their weird phone over the objections of every other phone company that wanted usaians to continue on with poor service and worse technology. Then AT&T bought Cingular and was stuck with the iPhone. Which I am sure they thought was going to be a big failure.

There is more to it than who invented it first.

Two words: Xerox PARC.


…and lock them down so that they couldn’t be made simpler or more elegant (or slightly less elegant, but much more usable) by the end-user…

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A most interesting video. It really goes to show you how much thought went into the iPhone.

Yes yes, we all know the story of how Xerox immediately recognized the game-changing potential of their GUI/mouse and almost single-handedly revolutionized the world of personal computing.

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Er, did you watch the video? That is expressedly addressed in the video. The developers at Xerox “stole” from real world counterparts, with “files”, “folders”, “desktops” and so on. The whole video is worth watching, especially if you are interested in semiotics and the back-and-forth between usability, doing something differently and how to make it feel familiar.

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