AT&T Board Members Didn't Get to See an iPhone Until After a Deal Was Signed
Apple and Steve Jobs were so secretive about the first iPhone that when AT&T COO Ralph de la Vega was shown the device he had to sign a NDA that prevented him from describing the device to his own bosses except in general terms, according to a Forbes report.
The secrecy was difficult for some to accept, especially since Apple wasn't abiding by the typical requirements for devices on the AT&T network. De la Vega recounts a 2006 conversation he had with Jobs.
"'How do you make this device be a really good phone?'" de la Vega recalls Jobs asking. "'I’m not talking about how to build a keyboard and things like that. But I’m saying the innards of a radio that worked well.'" AT&T had a huge 1,000 manual that detailed how a mobile radio should be optimized for its network. "He said, 'Well, send it to me.' So I sent him an e-mail. Thirty seconds, he calls me back. 'Hey, what the … ? What’s going on? You’re sending me this big document, and the first 100 pages have to do with the standard keyboard,'" de la Vega said, laughing. "'Sorry we didn’t take those first 100 pages out, Steve. Forget those 100 pages. Those don’t apply to you.'" He says, 'Okay,' and he hangs up the phone."
When AT&T's CTO found out that Apple wasn't required to adhere to the specifications he blasted de la Vega calling him "crazy" for "giving in to Apple".
Forbes reveals that De la Vega had signed a nondisclosure agreement in Jobs’ office that was so secretive it prevented him from describing the device to his bosses except in the most general terms. Board members didn’t even get to see one until after the deal was signed. “I said, ‘Trust me, this phone doesn’t need the first hundred pages.’ ”
The decision turned out to be a winning one for AT&T who has seen the traffic on its network double each year.