Apple Employee: Steve Jobs Nearly Leaked First iPhone Before Its Debut (AAPL)

Posted by · July 27, 2012 2:54 pm

With CEO of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs.It’s true: almost doesn’t count. At least that’s typically the rule of thumb. However, if it involves something Steve Jobs almost did, it might be worth a closer look. Speaking with Business Insider, an Apple employee provides us with one such instance. And it almost resulted in an untimely disclosure of the first-ever iPhone.

As the iconic Apple smartphone was being built—prior to its MacWorld debut—the late CEO nearly gave a FedEx employee a sneak peek at the device that would forever revolutionize cell phone technology as we know it.

Here’s the full story as the employee told it to Business Insider:

We had a problem with the WiFi on an early build of the iPhone. Steve had this house that was just a no man’s land for WiFi, with thick walls. It finally got to the point where we were friend and panicky because MacWorld was coming up, so we decided to go and debug at Steve’s house.

When we got there, Steve was sitting in his car in the driveway rocking out to some really loud music. The car was off, he was just listening. When he saw us, he turned off the music, popped out of the car, and said, “Hey guys!” We went into his house and started debugging the problem. Then all of the sudden this crazy ass buzzer starts going off and startles us, and even startled Steve. He quickly figured out it was coming from the pedestrian gate on the other side of his house.

Up walks the happiest FedEx guy you have ever seen coming up to the door. It’s not Steve’s normal guy, which is why he was surprised. So Steve goes out to meet him because he has to sign for this package, but he’s got the iPhone in one of his hands. Steve just walks out casually, drops the phone behind his back, signs the package, and the FedEx dud marches off.

Now you have to understand, when we carried the phones to his house, we carried them in these Pelican lock boxes. These phones were never to leave Apple’s campus, and Steve just casually throws it behind his back. That was the first time I saw someone casually come close to seeing the iPhone before it was announced, and he didn’t even know it. If the FedEx guy had just tilted his head, he would have seen it.

If only the FedEx worker had thought to tilt his head. He would have been in possession of an Apple secret so valuable he would have had the press wrapped around his finger until the day of MacWorld.

However, perhaps what’s most shocking about this story isn’t so much this would-be leak by Jobs himself, but rather the casual relationship between the trailblazing CEO and his employees. Granted this particular group of employees was in possession of some consequential knowledge at Apple, making it in his best interest to at least be cordial. Such a story serves to further humanize the widely loved yet enigmatic Apple CEO and co-founder.

He wasn’t the domineering yet distant executive who was careful to maintain a strictly professional appearance. Instead, he invited some of them to his house to do work. He had a casual, friendly demeanor, even when a monumental project like the iPhone was being finicky with its big debut imminent.

And if that wasn’t enough, he was the guy who dances to cranked-up tunes in his car and, if he gets home before the song ends, sits in the driveway until it ends—even if it means getting caught.

For more on Steve Jobs, Apple and the imminent next-gen iPhone…