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(Pocket-lint) - Before the original iPhone was released, Apple and Steve Jobs were close to scrapping the whole idea altogether. There were numerous technical issues which the design team didn't think they could overcome, so the company considered shelving the project.

The revelation came during a speech by Sir Jony Ive, senior vice-president of Industrial Design at Apple, to a British Business conference held alongside the London 2012 Olympic Games. Quoted in UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, he also claimed there were several other products Apple had ditched over the years.

"We nearly shelved the phone because we thought there were fundamental problems that we can't solve," he said.

"With the early prototypes, I held the phone to my ear and my ear [would] dial the number. You have to detect all sorts of ear-shapes and chin shapes, skin colour and hairdo... that was one of just many examples where we really thought, perhaps this isn’t going to work."

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Ive also stated that Apple's goal was not to make money, but to make great products. "Our goal isn’t to make money," he said.

"Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our goal and, what gets us excited, is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal."

Sir Jonathan Ive was knighted in the New Year's Honours list this year for his services to design and enterprise.

What do you think? Are you glad Apple persevered with the iPhone? Let us know in the comments below...

Pic: (cc) dfarber

Writing by Rik Henderson.