Apple started work on the iPhone in 2004, and it was originally called Project Purple inside Apple. A recently disclosed document from the Apple/Samsung trial described the initial selection process:
Forstall describes that he would begin by bringing "superstars" into his office and tell them "We're starting a new project. It's so secret I can't even tell you what that project is. I can't tell you who you will work for What I can tell you is that if you accept this project you will work nights, you will work weekends, probably for a number of years."
Jony Ive recently announced in an interview that Apple "nearly shelved" the iPhone on multiple times because they thought there were fundamental problems that they couldn't solve.
Apple has consistently proven its determination to protect the iPhone and iPad from rivals it sees as copying its designs. While the patent for the original iPhone is quite specific, it is considered unlikely to be used as part of the ongoing legal trial between Apple and Samsung. Since then most smartphones have followed Apple's lead in some form or other.
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