Apple’s Dueling iPhone OS Projects

Re: the previous item on Facebook purportedly scrapping their ground-up new OS for AR/VR in favor of continuing with the forked version of Android that currently powers Oculus headsets, NBC News has a non-paywalled archive of Businessweek’s 2011 profile of Scott Forstall (“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice at Apple”) by Adam Satariano, Peter Burrows, and Brad Stone:

Around 2005, Jobs faced a crucial decision. Should he give the task of developing the device’s software to the team that built the iPod, which wanted to build a Linux-based system? Or should he entrust the project to the engineers who had revitalized the software foundation of the Macintosh? In other words, should he shrink the Mac, which would be an epic feat of engineering, or enlarge the iPod? Jobs preferred the former option, since he would then have a mobile operating system he could customize for the many gizmos then on Apple’s drawing board. Rather than pick an approach right away, however, Jobs pitted the teams against each other in a bake-off.

Forstall led the Mac-centric approach. He commanded a team of fewer than 15 engineers who went to work stripping down Apple’s OS X operating system to see if it would work on a device with considerably less power and battery life than a regular computer. Leading the other group was Fadell, who helped create the iPod. Another boy wonder, Fadell in 2005 had become one of Apple’s youngest-ever senior vice-presidents at 36. The competition, according to former Apple employees, turned explosive, with Fadell and Forstall arguing over talent, resources, attention and credit.

Update, 25 February 2022:On the Origin of the iPhone” explains, in some detail, why Tony Fadell shouldn’t be described as having led the embedded Linux phone OS project.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022