Scott Forstall: Apple started making iPad because Jobs ‘hated’ a Microsoft exec

“The iPhone might never have existed if Apple co-founder Steve Jobs didn’t ‘hate’ an executive at Microsoft,” Shara Tibken reports for CNET. “Scott Forstall, the former head of Apple’s software business and the man who created iOS for the first iPhone, on Tuesday said Jobs couldn’t stand an executive at Microsoft who talked to him about plans for styluses and tablets.”

“Jobs, who was famously anti-stylus and instead favored using fingers on touchscreens, was annoyed with that Microsoft executive so he and Apple started work on their own tablet, which eventually became the iPad,” Tibken reports. “‘iPhone had a very circuitous route by itself,’ Forstall said Tuesday during an event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. ‘We’d been working on a tablet project, which has a really odd beginning. It began because Steve hated this guy at Microsoft.'”

“The panel was one of the first times Forstall has spoken publicly since leaving Apple in October 2012,” Tibken reports. “Forstall’s recount backs up Jobs’ own, given in Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography Steve Jobs. It revealed the tech icon said, “This dinner was like the tenth time he talked to me about it, and I was so sick of it that I came home and said, ‘F**k this, let’s show him what a tablet can really be.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Jobs was famously anti-stylus for a device the size of a 3.5-inch iPhone. Not necessarily for larger devices.

As we wrote back in August 2015, two years before Apple Pencil was unveiled:

The stylus will become more important with the “iPad Pro,” with its larger display for enterprise and education. Before anybody goes quoting the guy below, an iPad is not an iPhone:

“Who wants a stylus? You have to get ’em and put ’em away and you lose them. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus, so let’s not use a stylus.” – Steve Jobs, January 9, 2007

Mainstream media blows it, takes Steve Jobs stylus comment out of context – September 11, 2015
Jony Ive: Apple Pencil is for making marks, the finger is the interface for iOS – November 18, 2015
Jony Ive: The story of the Apple Pencil – November 11, 2015
Steve Jobs’ influence is evident in the new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil – September 14, 2015


          1. The event that precipitated a generous meal of crow & mighty humbling for those MS employees present at that parade. (Windows Phone however fitted that scenario perfectly so let that death parade continue!)

  1. …”Jobs was famously anti-stylus for a device the size of a 3.5-inch iPhone. Not necessarily for larger devices.”

    There is no way to infer that from Jobs. The relevant quotes are:
    “Jobs couldn’t stand an executive at Microsoft who talked to him about plans for styluses and tablets.”
    …”I was so sick of it that I came home and said, ‘F**k this, let’s show him what a tablet can really be.”

    Add to that the fact that the first project was the iPad, and only mid-way through the development, Jobs decided that a phone would have much greater penetration, so he re-purposed all the technological solutions they had developed by then (finger multi-touch, capacitive display, mobile OS X, etc) into a phone-sized device.

    When he spoke derisively about styluses, he wasn’t talking about phones; he was very clearly talking about tablets.

    Jobs would have most certainly NEVER approved a stylus for the iPad. Because Microsoft so dramatically failed with their Windows Tablet offerings from the early 2000s (that used a stylus), he was quite adamantly against it. It is very, very doubtful that ten years would have been enough for him to detox his mind from that hate of the stylus before he could embrace the idea.

    1. Let us not forget; Jobs had to die before we could finally get the larger-screen iPhone 6 (never mind 6+). Samsung was eating iPhone’s share under Jobs’s watch (during the iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s).

      1. It didn’t help that there was only one cellular company that had the iPhone for the first five or so years, and it didn’t have coverage outside of limited areas.

    2. It could easily be said what Jobs meant was he didn’t believe a stylus should be a necessity for a tablet.

      And… even though Apple now has a stylus for (some) iPads, it still isn’t a necessity.

      A simple fact of reality is that for some uses, for some people, a stylus is a far superior way to interact with their iPad than using a finger.

      As one, I think I can safely say this is true for every artist using an iPad for creative purposes. I’d rather draw than finger paint.

    3. about that pencil…

      I wonder if sometimes Jobs at the START insists on something to stop his designers from lazy thinking. For example he wanted a one button mouse because engineers were making things unnecessarily complex because they could use several buttons. One button forced them to think hard. I believe that resulted in a super interface and UI guidelines at the start of the Mac. (for pros you could use third party multi button mice for some apps) Later Apple embraced the three button method officially .

      And as Tim Cook said Jobs could change his mind if there were compelling arguments : “he could turn on a dime”.

  2. Lessee, could this mysterious Microsoft Executive beee…. SATAN!???

    AKA Monkey Boy? The man everyone (sane) loved to absolutely and unequivocally HATE for his sweaty, abject oafish and clueless behavior. “Developers! Developers! Developers!” (To which no one reacted to except in disbelief.)

  3. It’s amusing that Apple worked for many years with Palm. The public aspect was the coordination of ClarisWorks with Palm’s own software. But rumors expected there was an exchange of technology, Newton -> Palm PDAs. Palm devices all used styli. I suspect this is where Jobs learned to hate them, that and is dislike of the Newton.

  4. Sounds like Forstall is over simplifying something Jobs said. It would have happened anyway. The enabling technology was too good to pass up and only Apple had the vision, management infrastructure and engineering talent to do it right.

  5. I think some people miss the point. There is no convergent technology, no narrative of innovation, no inevitability of function. Everything that happened funneled down the path of least resistance. Like rivulets in a desert landscape, microscopic details are later inscrutably magnified into trends that will later be hailed as “decisive” and “inevitable” by self-styled pundits, prophets of the obvious, arm-chair seers extraordinaire.

    When I first started using the iPhone 3GS, I searched for a suitable stylus and I have been using one ever since. I never paid total attention to what Steve Jobs was saying, like about how styluses sucked, but only took his remarks into account as I considered my own needs. I’d hope anyone would do that with any company spokesman, no matter how charismatic.

  6. The real irony is Jobs saying a stylus sucks “because you have to get them out and put them away and you lose them” – and the Apple Pencil is prone to be lost because there’s no way to stow it! Whereas their competition allows the pen to neatly connect to the device.

    Talk about a lack of foresight in Apple.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.