Catching Up With Apple’s iPhone Guy

Eye of the Needle by David Needle (bio)

Insights from Silicon Valley and beyond

Bob Borchers

You remember Bob Borchers. What’s that, name doesn’t ring a bell? Borchers was the anonymous Apple marketing guy who hosted the original, 24-minute iPhone guided tour video back in June of 2007 when the device first came out.

Yes, it was only a few years ago, long before “There’s an app for that,” that Apple felt compelled to do a rather lengthy promo video to explain just what the heck the iPhone was.

Borchers jokes now that he was “the ugly mug” in the video, but he was far more than just a talking head.

In addition to heading worldwide product marketing for the iPhone, Borchers also spearheaded the Nike+iPod partnership and Apple’s iPod integration efforts with major auto companies. His almost five year tenure at Apple continued up through the recent launch of the iPhone 3GS. Earlier he held senior marketing positions at Nokia and Nike.

Now he’s a partner at venture firm Opus Capital. I caught up with him at the GigaOm Mobilize conference where, unleashed from Apple’s traditional stranglehold on employees’ speaking to the media, he was happy to discuss his time there and trends in the marketplace.

Even his hiring was tinged with secrecy. Borchers says he had no idea what he was being hired to work on. But after he got there, Apple let him know they were working on a new device, the iPhone.

So what was it like working for Steve Jobs? Borchers wouldn’t comment on Jobs’ dictatorial reputation, but he did say Jobs was open to push back on his ideas as long as they were well-reasoned and defendable.

“The good news is that you came away from every meeting with decisions being made; there was no paralysis by analysis.”

Next page: Selling a $500 phone

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