It was ten years ago this week (January 9, 2007) that Steve Jobs introduced the world to the first iPhone.
Jobs inspired or helped create a huge number of technologies during his time at Apple, NeXT Computers and Pixar – he has well over 300 patents to his name. However, few products were as ground breaking or game changing as the iPhone. Apple didn’t just revolutionize the hardware, they revolutionized what a cellphone was used for and they revolutionized the relationship users had with their phone company.
Every single cellphone before my first iPhone was filled with Telus junk ware and came with a Telus logo on the front. If you wanted to install an app you had to use Telus’ app store (full of insanely overpriced junk ware of varying usefulness). And you wanted to get photos off your phone, you could pay Telus for the privilege. And if you wanted music on your phone, good luck with that!
The iPhone was Apple’s and Apple’s alone – there was no junk ware, no carrier tie-in. You were Apple’s customer and they were in charge of the relationship right from the start. This pissed off a lot of carrier’s because it smashed their business model, but Apple’s relentless drive to perfect the customer experience meant there was no other option.
I vividly remember watching the 2007 announcement of the original iPhone and being completely blown away. I had been carrying a random collection of cell phones before that day – starting with one of Motorola’s original brick flip phones, a Nokia, a Kyocera and a handful of Samsung flip phones. One of my flip phones even had a very basic music player and another had a full keyboard for texting (of course, they were separate phones, you can’t combine two awesome features into one device). And then there was the Blackberry 8800.
I was amazed by my Blackberry when I first got it – it’s capabilities were awe inspiring at the time. The fact that I could get email anywhere was life changing for me – sure the camera was crap and the web browser was a joke – but email! My Blackberry truly made me feel like I was holding the future in my hands.
When Steve Jobs demonstrated the iPhone nine months later I couldn’t look at my Blackberry with anything but disdain. In reality it didn’t do a lot of things I wanted it to do, and what it could do it didn’t do it easily. Plus there was no good way to sync it with my computer because I had a Mac and Blackberry didn’t care enough to make Mac software.
As soon as the iPhone came to Canada I decided to get one. I had to change phone companies (my current provider was CDMA and the iPhone was GSM). I also had to pay $600 to cancel my three-year contract with my old carrier. But when I finally got my hands on my shiny new iPhone 3G all the money, and the hassle and the wait was worth it.
I never doubted for a second how truly revolutionary the iPhone was. It answered all of my needs as a user, and introduced new needs I hadn’t even thought of. Having a map app on my phone literally changed how I explore the world, and with a real web browser I could find any information I wanted, whenever I wanted to know it. And of course, you could sync all your contacts, and make regular back-ups.
And I now had a real, honest to goodness camera in my pocket. With all my previous camera phones I had to pay to use my phone provider’s photo service to get photos off of my phone – there was no easy way to just sync them with my computer. And if you ever lost or replaced your phone, youlost all of your photos. That’s just how it was and I was OK with it.
Needless to say not everyone agreed with my first impression of the first iPhone. Some of them were just misinformed, a few were misguided and a few, like Steve Ballmer had their head planted firmly in the sand.
John C. Dvorak Tech Columnist, March 28, 2007
Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone… What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a ‘reference design’ and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures… Otherwise I’d advise people to cover their eyes. You are not going to like what you’ll see.
Steve Ballmer Microsoft CEO, April 2007
There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.
Ed Colligan Ex-Palm CEO, November 2006
We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.
Anssi Vanjoki Nokia’s Chief Strategist, November 2009
The development of mobile phones will be similar in PCs. Even with the Mac, Apple has attracted much attention at first, but they have still remained a niche manufacturer. That will be in mobile phones as well.
Mike Lazaridis Blackberry CEO, May 2008
The most exciting mobile trend is Full Qwerty keyboards. I’m sorry, it really is. I’m not making this up. People are running out of their two-year contracts and they’re coming into the stores and they want to be able to do Facebook and they want to be able to do instant messaging and they want to be able to do e-mail and they ask for those features thinking that they’re going to get another flip phone and they’re walking out with a (BlackBerry) Curve or a Pearl because they’re the best devices for doing those kinds of activities. And so what is the defining factor? The keyboard.
TechCrunch – Click Here To View Source Article
Until June 29, it’s hard to tell too much about the iPhone, but I can tell you with near-certainty one thing: the product was almost certainly rushed to market before Apple’s engineers would have liked… Here’s what we’re predicting will go wrong with the iPhone, and a little about what may go right.
Suckbusters – Click Here To View Source Article
I have three specific reasons why the iPhone’s design will cause it to crash in flames the way Apple’s late and unlamented Newton did, only much more loudly and publicly because of all the hype it’s gotten: First, the iPhone ignores the main reasons that the iPod succeeded: simplicity and ease of use… Second, the iPhone crams too many functions into a single box… Third, users will detest the touch screen interface due to its lack of tactile feedback.
Many consumers had opinions about the new iPhone too – some good, some scathingly. Check out this article on The Atlantic – it’s worth a read.
You can debate on the iPhone’s influence on cell phones, and on consumer electronics in general – was it revolutionary or evolutionary. Regardless of where you stand, the iPhone did change things for the better. Cellphones would have been very different had it not been for Apple introducing the iPhone in 2007.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for Apple’s iPhone. Personally I’m hoping for a big upgrade in September because my iPhone 6 is starting to show it’s age. I’m not expecting anything revolutionary, just evolutionary with a few really cool features thrown in to keep the fanboys happy. And I’m perfectly happy with that.