iPhone: four years in the making

It seems like the UK launch of the Apple iPhone has gone smoothly so far. Queues around the block (at least here in London), no reported problems with activations, and potentially, some 70,000 units sold during the opening weekend.

Today we had a chance to quiz Apple about the aftermath of the Apple iPhone launch. The company is notoriously tight-lipped and while some companies would be ecstatic with such numbers, Apple is: "very pleased with the initial sales reports and interest from customers."

The Apple iPhone has been four years in the making, a member of its development team told us at a private briefing this afternoon. "There have been numerous prototypes, versions of the software and the touchscreen since we started," he said.

"We wanted to create a breathtaking multi-touch touchscreen that people would gasp over when they saw it," he added. "It's all about the software that goes into the screen and how it interacts with the user. Hardware is all about design, software is about art."

Proper OS makes all the difference

The developer went on to say that having a real operating system, in this case Mac OS X, on a device makes all the difference in the world. "When you don't [have a proper OS], that's usually when phones don't work."

Apple also maintains that it's not too worried about consumers unlocking the Apple iPhone to work on other networks.

"There's always going to be people who unlock firmware updates, bragging about unlocking devices. But you have to remember that if you do so, you won't get new software updates, free Wi-Fi, inclusive voice minutes and data usage, nor visual voicemail. That's a lot of features lost."

iPhone upgrades?

Speaking of firmware updates, will Apple release a version that will update iPhone niggles such as the lack of support for sending multiple SMS messages, support for MMS or SMS forwarding? "We have no immediate plans to do so at this stage," said the Apple spokesperson. "But we might do so in the future. Almost everything can be updated via the firmware upgrade."

Until the UK launch of the Apple iPhone last Friday, Apple said it had sold some 1.4 million units of the device. O2 today claimed it had sold "tens of thousands" of the Apple iPhone.