Why Apple Introduced the Pencil Even Though Steve Jobs Said No One Wants a Stylus

Answer by Michael Vogel, Technology enthusiast since 1989, on Quora:

Touchscreens have gotten bigger and their roles have changed.

When Steve Jobs said that in 2010, he was talking specifically about phones that, at the time, had extremely small displays compared to today. The iPad had only just been launched and the iPhone had a 3.5" screen. The iPhone's biggest competitors were still Blackberry and other PDA like devices, many of whom came with a stylus. At the time, a stylus was often an alternate input device that was the primary input device.

The difference that the iPad Pro is being pitched as a productivity device instead of a consumption device. With that, you need different input devices and touch doesn't always work for that. As Apple showed in the keynote, a stylus allows you to do much more in terms of productivity. Coupled with the keyboard, the iPad Pro is finally posed to be the laptop replacement so many people hoped it would be when it was first launched five years ago.

Steve Jobs famously said that if a device includes a stylus, you know they blew it. The iPad Pro does not include a stylus. It's an optional input device. Remember that Apple has supported styluses for years and carried them in the Apple Store. If a stylus is the primary input device for a touch screen, they blew it.

Successful companies are dynamic. Companies that stick to their guns and refuse to change when the market does, even when they are wrong, are companies that fail. This isn't the first time Apple has firmly taken a stance on an issue and then changed after time passed. If Apple wasn't willing to admit when they are wrong and change, they would be out of business. Finally, when someone says makes a statement, all it means is that is what the situation is currently. What was true in 2010 isn't true today. The situations and markets have changed in ways that no one could have foreseen. It doesn't necessarily mean they were wrong five years ago, a lifetime in the tech world, it just means that things have changed.


Answer by Brian Roemmele, Alchemist & Metaphysician, on Quora:

It is all a matter of perspective. Fundamentally, the same thinking and premise that was at play in 2007 for the iPhone 1 is active today. It all started with Steve Jobs in 2005 and slowly expanded on to the entirety of the Apple team by 2015. It turns out Steve is still misunderstood today.
The Stylus As The Only Input Method

"Stylus? Who wants a Stylus? You have get them and then put them away. Yuk, no one wants a Stylus" - Steve Jobs, 2007

Although Steve famously mocked the very idea of a Stylus for a smart phone and perhaps the Personal Digital Assistant(PDA), he never said that there was no use for a stylus.
Steve argued that the stylus would get lost and is never around when you need it, and he was right. There was a very firm foundation for his justification; in the epoch Steve was making this statement, there were dreadful products where the only input mechanism was a Stylus. Yes, this includes the Apple Newton, which he canceled for many additional reasons.
Ironically Jony Ive designed both the Telescoping Apple Newton Stylus and the new Apple Pencil. However, the very premise of each device is from remote universes. The Apple Newton was hobbled by a singular method of  input. Jony did the best he could with the limitations of the Newton's interface methodology.
​ Steve was speaking to the tyranny of the Stylus as
the single input method and device
. Of course this was in contrast to the use of our fingers, an input system that was utterly flawed in the epoch just before the iPhone 1. The iPhone 1 completely changed the way we interact with our devices. No longer were we bound to the keyboard, mouse, touchpad, or stylus, now, we could reach out and touch things.

The Apple Pencil As An Additional Input Method

With the iPad Pro, Apple has not abandoned what we now take for granted, touch. Apple has done what they are famous for, what makes them the company that has change so much in the way we interact with our data: they have refined the experience. They made it more exacting.

It turns out Apple has been submitting patents on a regular schedule for a stylus device for the last decade, while Steve was presiding over the direction of the company. I have been tracking Apple patents since the late 1970s and was as certain that Apple would create a stylus input method as I was that Apple would enter into payments.

Here is one of the latest patent examples. It may now look very familiar:

Apple Pencil Is All About Accuracy And Control

The Apple Pencil is fundamentally about accuracy. Data is scanned an astounding 240 times per second to allow for the most finite control. This is two times the rate of the current iPad when using a finger. This accuracy is to the level of an individual pixel on the new iPad Pro screen. This is an order of magnitude more exacting then any Apple input device. This means that one can now, with the tip of the Apple Pencil, manipulate one of the 2732 x 2048 pixels, any 264 of them per inch, to an extent never possible on an iPad and on most computers, without rather expensive external Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems. Of course Apple Pencil will not replace these systems, nor was it designed for this purpose.  Apple Pencil allows far more people to participate. This a hallmark of how Apple creates products for "the rest of us." This is really the basis for the refined thinking that leads to the Apple Pencil.

The entire industrial design team at Apple, including Jony Ive, uses a stylus every day to build Apple products. In 20/20 hindsight, the Apple Pencil was a simple and logical step for Jony and his team.

Thus the Apple Pencil is right in line with the design philosophy and ethos that has made Apple the company they are today, and right in line with the philosophy and ethos of Steve Jobs. Yesterday, September, 9th 2015, one could feel his presence in the room.

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