I just got a panicked phone call from Jon Ive saying “Dude you cannot say stuff like that about Bill Thompson, okay? You have no idea but in the UK he’s like a friggin god.” Jon tells me he’s freaking out because if Bill says the iPhone is gonna flop, then it’s gonna flop. “The guy is like the world’s leading authority on usability,” Jon says.
I’m like, Jon, we’ve hired the best industrial designers in the world, the best software engineers, the best usability experts. We’ve spent years developing this phone and testing it and using it and refining it. This guy Bill Thompson hasn’t even seen one, let alone used one.
Jon says, “Dude, it doesn’t matter. If Bill Thompson says it’s gonna sink, it’s gonna sink. Trust me. The guy is never wrong. He’s like the Oracle of Delphi.”
I’m like, The what? Huh?
“Doesn’t matter,” Jon says. “But trust me. Bill Thompson is the world’s foremost authority on technology. The guy went to Cambridge and read philosophy with Stephen Hawking. That’s like going to Harvard or Yale and studying with the Beautiful Mind guy. Don’t be fooled by his appearance. He’s wicked smart. I’m seriously thinking we should pull this product back and add a real keyboard with tactile keys. Seriously, Steve, I’m kind of freaking out about this.”
I told him I didn’t think there was any way we could redesign the whole product in less than a month. “So maybe we should pull back and ship it next year,” he says. “It’s better than having a flop. Which is what we’re gonna have. Trust me.”
Well it’s too late to do anything about the iPhone now. We’re just gonna have to put it out there and take it on the chin. Bill Thompson, I’m sorry for making fun of you. I had no idea who you were or that you went to Brasenose-upon-Oxford-in-Cambridge. My deepest apologies. You’re right. We’re wrong. From now on we’ll consult you in advance and bring you in on the product design right from the start. Please be gentle on us with this one though okay? Much love.