Early click wheel and icon-based iPhone prototypes shown in new video

After sharing images and a video of an early-stage prototype iPhone software based on a click wheel interface, noted leakster Sonny Dickson is back at it with another wonderful piece of Apple history.

A new video posted yesterday on Dickson’s website pits a pair of early iPhone prototypes against each other: Tony Fadell’s “P1” device based on iPod’s click wheel and ex-iOS chief Scott Forstall’s “P2” project.

“To understand the iPhone today, and how it has shaped Apple and pushed the world forward, it’s important to have a sense of perspective,” said Dickson.

Back in the beginning, there were two iPhone projects internally at Apple as Steve Jobs pitted Scott Forstall and “iPod Godfather” Tony Fadell against each other in a competition to see who could create a more compelling smartphone OS. Internal competition worked: both project teams were extremely competitive because they wanted to impress Jobs.

This is also Apple’s standard practice as it often develops several prototypes of new gadgets before settling on one. For its next iPhone, for example, Apple is thought have as many as ten different iPhone prototypes in its labs.

The video embedded below pits “P1” and “P2” prototypes against each other. Although both devices run a prototype OS, code-named “Acorn OS”, the “P1” prototype runs faster because it uses a slimmed down version of Acorn OS while “P2” takes a significantly longer to load because it actually has a real OS. As you can see from the video, “P1” loads the classic iPod logo while “P2” shows the octopus logo.

“These P unit prototypes are so early in the development process that they rely on a custom process to be turned off, and can only be powered down during a certain step of the boot process,” he explains.

Although it may not seem like it, deciding between the two prototypes was no easy task for Jobs & Co. Tony Fadell had the clout of being the creator of the iPod and Scott Forstall had been working with Steve since the NeXT days.

Fortunately for us, Forstall’s “P2” prototype won out because as handy as that click wheel-based interface is for browsing music, using it on a smartphone would have been a user experience nightmare.

“The iPhone P2 is what came to be known as the original selling model of the iPhone, paving the foundation of where we are today, 10 years in the future,” said Dickson.

Source: Sonny Dickson

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