The original iPhone was announced on January 9, 2007 at Macworld Expo. Of the many entertaining Steve keynotes, this one holds a special place for me. Treat yourself to a masterclass of presentation by clicking the photo above.
This is a good time to reflect on what has changed in the last eight years. At the time of the announcement smartphones used to look like this:
Motorola Q, Blackberry and Palm Treo
Longtime Mac users knew it was coming. We understood why Apple never shipped a personal digital assistant or PDA. Those functions were already migrating to mobile phones. Pour one out for those trusty Palm Treo devices; they helped point the way forward. An Apple phone just had to happen. We figured the name had to be iPhone; what else could it be? We knew Apple liked to reinvent and leapfrog the competition. The question remained. How would Apple choose to reinvent the phone? Was it going to an iPod like interface with a scroll wheel? We speculated but could not have predicted what it would actually be.
The original iPhone
The hardware was minimal and robust. There was no scroll wheel to clutter things up. A large (for the day) bitmapped screen begged to be touched. It is so obvious now that computers work this way. In 2007 it was a revolutionary simplification in interacting with technology. As the software was demoed I kept thinking that good ideas don’t die; they evolve along with the state of the art hardware. The grid of simple square bounded icons and the home button echoed Newton OS. It took Apple 10 years to make good on the promise of products like the MessagePad. I was glad to see ARM processors and a friendly interface that updated the look and feel of a platform discontinued back in 1997.
In hindsight iPhone wasn’t really a phone. It was a ultra portable computer that just happened to do things you associated with a mobile phone. Clearly Apple envisioned far more robust use cases. Building iPhone OS on a foundation of Mac OS X meant the iPhone would be in another class altogether. This would be your most personal computer. The one that was with you all the time. One with strong bones and a proven desktop class architecture.
On June 29, 2007 Apple released the iPhone and continued their pundit vexing ways. The entry model iPhone (4GB) was a Cingular exclusive for $499 with a two-year contract. It was perceived by many to be to expensive to succeed. The success of iPod and the iTunes Store had afforded them the opportunity to compete with smartphones of the day. Each year since has resulted in breakthrough sales of the iPhone. And while the marketshare leader is Android, iOS is well positioned to continue growing in the maturing market for mobile computing devices.
Is Apple about to repeat history with the launch of the Apple Watch? No one really knows; but I did recently upgrade to an iPhone capable of pairing with the Apple Watch just in case.