What Can Product Managers Learn From How The iPhone Was Born?
If you’re like most product managers, you see the iPhone and wish it was the product you were managing. How cool would that be? It would be a great job to manage a product that has sold more than 470M copies. We often forget that the iPhone wasn’t even invented. Product managers can learn valuable lessons from the story of how it was created.
How to Keep Your Boss Happy
Steve Jobs may be gone, but we all remember him. Steve was a crucial player in the iPhone’s product development. He was a tireless communicator to his teams about his desire for more significant ideas and larger concepts.
Steve insists on close communication with his team during the iPhone’s development. The team had to present twice a month to Jobs at a conference that did not have windows. This project was clearly secretive.
The product managers realized that Steve would take over the presentation whenever they presented it to another member of the Apple senior management team. He was clearly in the process of taking over this product.
Details, Details, Details
Although it can be difficult to recall, the iPhone really established a new market. This meant that many of the new features that the iPhone offered were unheard of before. Product managers had to focus on the details of the product’s operation, which meant they had to spend a lot of time. It was clear to them that if they did this correctly, it would make a great product manager resume.
The iPhone’s slide to unlock feature is a great example. This is the result of Apple’s decision not to use a keyboard on its iPhone but instead replace it with a touch screen keyboard. This was a first.
Attention to detail did not stop there. To understand how the iPhone could work with them, the iPhone team had to reexamine every aspect of mobile phones’ manufacturing process and reimagine them. This involved re-examining everything from how to display a schedule to how to check voicemail.
What Does All This Mean for You?
Every product manager would love to manage wildly successful products. The iPhone is one of the most popular products right now – who wouldn’t want to manage that product? We forget that the iPhone was developed just like any other product before it could be sold. This is an essential part of any product manager’s job description.
Steve Jobs, the well-known CEO, was involved in the creation and design of the iPhone. Apple’s product managers could not make decisions on their own – Steve wanted to control every aspect of the process. Because of their meticulous attention to detail, the iPhone’s ultimate success was due to the product managers. We can all learn from Apple’s success with this product.
You and I might never be responsible for creating a product as popular as the iPhone. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to learn from the iPhone’s development. Apple created a highly successful product, and this is something we can all learn from.