Apple advertising legend Ken Segall revealed some cracking reminiscences from his time at Apple, including some rare Steve Jobs lapses of taste, a furious row between Jobs and design guru Jonathan Ive, and the original name suggested for the iPhone.
Segall, speaking at a Books For Breakfast event on a tour to promote his book Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success, remembers exactly where he was when Steve Jobs returned to power at Apple in 1997. He had been working on the AT&T advertising account for just six weeks when he received a series of phone calls from Steve Jobs and ad agency Chiat\Day to “Get the band back together”.
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He didn’t like to skip a job he’d only just started but here was a chance to combine his three favourite professional things” Apple (where he’d worked under CEO John Sculley), Chiat\Day, and Steve Jobs (for whom he’s worked with at NeXT).
In those first days of Steve’s return to the company he founded and been fired from 12 years earlier Apple had no new products to shout about.
Find a "formidable enemy"
Steve’s “mischievous sense of humour” came to the fore. He decided Apple needed to find an enemy to take pot shots at. Jobs knew this would be a good way of getting the tech industry’s attention while Apple worked on its new products.
It couldn’t be old arch-enemy Microsoft, as Steve had signed an agreement with Bill Gates to give Apple some much-needed business boost.
So Jobs chose chip maker Intel, which provided the processors that ran the PCs that ran Windows.
Segall, Jobs and the ad agency came up with the “Anti-Pentium Trilogy,” poking fun at the supposedly faster processor by sticking it on a snail and burning its bunny-suited engineers.
Segall defended Jobs from vilification: “Sure he had few social graces but he had all this good in him, because he wanted to move humanity forward.”
Segall also worked on Apple’s iconic Think Different campaign, as well as working for companies antithetical to Apple such as Dell and Intel.
Naming the iMac
It was Segall who came up with the name iMac, which Jobs eventually warmed to after initially “hating” it. The “i” stood for Imagination, Individual and Internet, among other positive notions.
Steve had wanted to call the new Bondi Blue computer “MacMan” – a “pretty darn stupid” name apparently dreamed up by Apple Marketing chief Phil Schiller.
Other names that were considered, which Segall is now embarrassed by, were “EveryMac” and “MiniMac”.
(Jobs had history in ridiculous name ideas: he once wanted to call the Macintosh "Bicycle".)
“If it weren’t for me, you’d probably be sitting there with your PhoneMan right now,” Segall quipped.
Naming the iPhone
Segall revealed that one of the first names considered for the iPhone was actually “iPad”. (Apple designed the touchscreen tablet before the smartphone.)
Steve and Jony
Segall remembers Steve Jobs and Apple’s head of product design Jony (now Sir Jonathan) Ive as “inseparable”: “They were as close as lovers,” he recalled.
But, like all lovers, they had their tiffs.
Segall was shocked at one of these rare arguments between Steve and Jony – he even worried that Ive might quit Apple over the row.
After 1998’s Bondi Blue iMac Apple decided to push the boat out and release a whole rainbow of the coloured computers the next year. Many models in various hues were collected together for Jobs, Ive, Segall and a few others to select from.
But Ive was “driven crazy” by Steve’s choices, and eventually stormed out of the room to his holiday, shouting that Steve could choose any of the colours he liked but he was taking no more part in the discussion.
Eventually Apple chose Blueberry, Strawberry, Lime, Tangerine and Grape.
Ken Segall’s new book Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success (Penguin, 2012) goes on sale on June 7.
Our book review to follow.