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Apple's Jony Ive says the iPhone almost didn't happen

The chief of design at Apple says in an interview that the company's flagship product "wasn't inevitable" and might have fallen through many times.

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Apple Chief Design Officer Jonathan Ive (center) shares a laugh with actor Stephen Fry during a launch event in September.

Stephen Lam, Getty Images

What would the world be like without an iPhone? We apparently came very close to an existence without Apple's hit device.

In an interview published Tuesday by Dazed, Apple's chief design officer Jony Ive said the product could have fallen through.

"There were multiple stages while we were working on the phone when solving problems wasn't inevitable and we really did have concerns that it wasn't viable, that it wasn't going to work," Ive said.

The iPhone became influential technology he said, but it grew from a fragile idea. Still, that idea provided a roadmap to success for Apple.

"Ultimately we are able to develop hardware and software together to create a singular experience," he said.

Ive said there are plenty of ideas that Apple has prototyped but couldn't finish because some part of the technology isn't fully developed yet. "So we put things to one side, knowing that at some point we will carry on working on them again," he said. "It's not a question of this being right, it's just a question of when it's right."

Ive recently told CNET that the secret sauce in Apple products isn't just creating something new; it's the push to improve.

"We don't limit ourselves in how we will push -- if it's to a better place," Ive said. "What we won't do is just do something different that's no better."