iPhone Release Held Up in Israel Due to Linguistic Difficulties

Apple source: Company didn't want to release the iPhone with Hebrew software that hadn't passed its inspection.

Bob Borchers, who until a month ago headed iPhone development and marketing at Apple, told Haaretz that the delay in launching the iPhone in Israel stemmed from the device's problems supporting writing that goes from right to left.

Apple didn't want to release the iPhone with Hebrew software that hadn't passed its inspection, Borchers explained, even though the company knew there were Hebrew applications for the device which already worked well. About 200 people are employed in iPhone development, he said, "not so many," and the company's priorities were elsewhere.

Borchers, now a partner in the venture capital firm Opus, was in Israel to take part in a conference sponsored by Ernst and Young. He is a familiar face as the person who gave viewers a tour of the iPhone in video advertisements.

From private to management

The iPhone's success has meant that a product designed for the private market rapidly entered the organizational one, which presented several challenges to Apple, mainly in distribution.

Borchers said that the second operating version developed by Apple was aimed at this market, and turned to managers for help. Cell phone operators, he said, promoted the iPhone in companies via packages for employees and management.

When the director of a company purchases an iPhone privately, Borchers said, he may ask his IT department to adapt the device to the company's needs. About 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies have already adopted the iPhone, according to Borchers.

Borchers said he did not think that Apple needed to enter the netbook field, as the user experience of the device was not yet good enough for Apple to get involved, he said.

But he added that Apple is making an effort in user experience, and not only in technology, saying, "that's how it was with the iPhone too."

Apple, he said, didn't invent touch screens or smart cell phones, but managed to combine technologies to produce a good device.