The fact that every tech blog and media outlet was obsessed with the iPhone this week is a testament not only to the the phone's design, functions or timing, but to Apple's ability to keep a really juicy secret. Manufacturers release sleek and innovative phones and gadgets every season, some of which are wildly popular, but never talked about in the press the way the iPhone is and will continue to be. When it comes to big announcements, Apple is in its own league.
This week New York Times columnist David Pogue investigated Apple's hush tactics by asking Steve Jobs if he knew of the work of Jeffrey Han, who’s been demonstrating his big “multi-touch” screen technology since at least August 2005. According to Pogue, Jobs told him: “We’ve had ours for two and a half years,” implying that Apple’s version came first. For more of Pogue's story, read more
I also asked Mr. Jobs and Cingular’s CEO, Stan Sigman, how Cingular managed to keep the iPhone a secret; he conceded that the company had never had to manage a project in such secrecy before.
The answer, I was told, is that Cingular (like Apple) divided the project up into teams of engineers, each of whom worked on only one section of the phone. In fact, Apple actually supplied Cingular with a fakeout user-interface design that bore no resemblance to the final one, so that its programmers wouldn’t know what they were working on.
There are few people in this world I would trust my secrets with. Steve Jobs is one of them.