When the original iPhone came out in 2007, Steve Jobs was well aware of its flaws. It had no front camera, measly battery life, and a slow 2G connection from AT&T. It was also underpowered. A former Apple engineer who worked on the device said that while the handset was a breakthrough technology, it was limited because it pieced together components from different vendors, including elements from a Samsung chip used in DVD players. “Steve came to the conclusion that the only way for Apple to really differentiate and deliver something truly unique and truly great, you have to own your own silicon,” Srouji says. “You have to control and own it.”
One of Jobs’s trusted advisers, Bob Mansfield, Apple’s top hardware executive at the time, recruited Srouji to lead that effort. Srouji, then at IBM, was a rising star in the arcane world of semiconductor engineering. Mansfield promised him an opportunity to build something from scratch.
Strangely enough, I know a bit about silicon engineering – my dad worked in the field for a while, and I’m taking a class where my current homework is to build the circuitry, from the ground up,1 that would power a calculator.
- Well, in a virtual environment – they didn’t just hand us a PCB and a soldering iron and tell us to have fun. ↩