Fortune has published a highly interesting interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, looking at the iPhone, Apple and the search for the co-founder's successor.

The engaging and wide-ranging interview is written by Fortune senior editor Betsy Morris and is available in its entirety here.

Jobs is typically phlegmatic when it comes to discussing the birth of the iPhone: "We all had mobile phones. We just hated them, they were so awful to use. The software was terrible. The hardware wasn't very good. We talked to our friends, and they all hated their phones too. Everybody seemed to hate their phones. And we saw that these things really could become much more powerful and interesting," he said.

He also reveals the the design for the iPhone's enclosure was changed at the eleventh hour. "I came in one Monday morning, I said, 'I just don't love this. I can't convince myself to fall in love with this. And this is the most important product we've ever done."

Jobs describes Apple's pursuit as part technology, part consumer electronics, but driven by the quality of art, his passionate teams abandoned a year's worth of work on the iPhone to do it again to the Macworld Expo deadline.

On product design, Jobs quotes Henry Ford: "If I'd have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me 'A faster horse.'" He stresses the significance of Apple to the people working at Apple, "this is our life, life is short and then you die...so it better be damn good."

As part of this, Apple's senior management engage in weekly Monday meetings where they go through each product they sell to determine how it's doing, and talk about all the products in development, "We look at every single product under development, products we're having trouble with, products where the demand is larger than we can make," said Jobs.

Finally, as fears of recession engage in an ugly grip on the global economy, Jobs stressed his determination to continue to invest through the downturn. Apple did this to weather the dotcom bubble bust, and will do so again. Jobs stressed that having worked so hard to hire great people in the good times, the company isn't about to let them go in the lean times.

Last time this happened, Jobs told his board: "We were going to up our R&D budget so that we would be ahead of our competitors when the downturn was over. And that's exactly what we did. And it worked."

Now it's present again, "that's exactly what we'll do this time."