Pre Originally Sported Resistive Touch Screen? 13
Fortune Magazine has an article up trying to make the case for a storied history of rivalry, hatred, and bitterness between Apple and Palm. Reading through the timeline of this (somewhat trumped-up) soap opera, we were waiting for the part where Ed Colligan gets amnesia and Jonathan Ive kidnaps Palm's lead designer when we came upon a little nugget about Jon Rubinstein, who left Apple, spent some time in Mexico, then rode in on a white horse to save Palm -- so the story goes. Anyhow, get this:
Rubinstein started, in his words, "hanging out" with Palm people in late June. He didn't like what he saw. The hardware for the Pre needed to be scrapped and rebooted. For one thing, prototypes were using old "resistive" touchscreen technology that responds to a user physically pushing the screen, not the newer "capacitive" technology manipulated by the electricity in the user's body. Rubinstein tossed out the old phone's hardware and built a new one in about 15 months. "We were basically running a marathon and doing a heart transplant in the middle of it," says Rubinstein.
A resistive touchscreen is the kind that you see on PalmOS Treos and Centros and Windows Mobile phones -- the kind that usually requires a stylus for any sort of accurate touch interaction. Let's just say that if the Pre had launched with a resistive touch screen we would be slinging the word "Catastrophe" around a bit.
Our pal Rene Ritchie at TiPb reported on the day the Pre was announced that during Rubinstein's time at Apple he pressed to get a physical keyboard on the iPhone and was denied. If he truly did lead a complete redesign of the Palm Pre, then it sounds like he has gotten his wish.
Thanks to Gekko in our forums for the tip!