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Steve Jobs did not invent the iPhone

Source | LinkedIn : By Brian Merchant

An important lesson in innovation—and teamwork—on the 10th birthday of the most popular product of all time.

The iPhone just turned 10 years old, and if you were anywhere near a magazine, newspaper, or screen—swipeable or otherwise—you probably saw a story or nine celebrating its advent. That story would likely run alongside an image of one man in particular. There he is, Steve Jobs on stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Steve Jobs with an aluminum-backed rectangle in his palm. Steve Jobs handing the iPhone down unto the world.

The narrative is clear: Steve Jobs gave us the iPhone, which, at over 1.2 billion units sold, has become the single best selling product of all time. But that narrative also happens to be rather flawed, even misleading. And that’s well worth noting, all these years after the iPhone was set upon its trajectory for world domination—because Steve Jobs did not invent the iPhone.

Rarely is it worth going to the trouble to point out that someone did not invent something. ‘Brian Merchant Did Not Invent the Cuisinart’ is a headline that is unlikely to generate much interest anywhere, ever, even inside the whirring world of cuisinart aficionados. So why pick on Steve Jobs? Why the iPhone? Because the myth is becoming inextricable from the man. Jobs may have never claimed outright that he alone invented the one device—though he did seem to insist on putting his name first on many of its patents—but history is beginning to conflate the art of invention with CEOship, marketing prowess with innovation.

Think back to those photos of the iPhone. There are few, if any, images of the team(s) of impossibly hard-working designers, engineers, and hardware hackers who deserve the lion’s share of the credit for bringing it to life. (And I’m not just talking about Jony Ive, either!) We are being encouraged to believe a version of a myth that has been promulgated for decades, if not centuries: The myth of the sole, or lone, inventor.

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