The cup-holder paradox
Apple didn't do anything that it wouldn't have been easier for a larger more expert cell phone maker (Nokia, Motorola leap to mind) to do.
Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nokia designed smartphones and tablets well before Apple:
More than seven years before Apple Inc. rolled out the iPhone, the Nokia team showed a phone with a color touch screen set above a single button. The device was shown locating a restaurant, playing a racing game and ordering lipstick. In the late 1990s, Nokia secretly developed another alluring product: a tablet computer with a wireless connection and touch screen—all features today of the hot-selling Apple iPad.