Prior to the launch of the iPhone, Apple’s hit product was probably its iPod and its iconic click wheel. The idea of using a click wheel to navigate the device was so popular that apparently Apple had even considered creating a digital version for the iPhone. This was revealed in a VentureBeat interview with Tony Fadell (via BGR).
For those unfamiliar, Fadell used to be an Apple executive who helped create the iPod, although these days Fadell is probably better known for his company Nest and the man who is reportedly leading the second iteration of Google Glass. That being said, his interview with VentureBeat revealed some interesting things about the first ever iPhone prototype.
One of the things he revealed was how the first prototype actually came with a digital rotary dial. According to Fadell, “We started out by making an iPod phone. It was an iPod with a phone module inside it. It looked like an iPod, but it had a phone, and you would select numbers through the same interface and so on. But if you wanted to dial a number it was like using a rotary dial.” Unsurprisingly the idea did not exactly pan out.
Fadell adds, “It sucked. We knew three months in that it wasn’t going to work. Steve said, “Keep trying!” We tried everything. We tried for seven or eight months to get that thing to work. Couldn’t do it. We added more buttons and it just became this gangly thing.” Could you imagine an iPhone with a digital rotary dial?