I’m watching the original 2007 introduction of the iPhone – streamed via AppleTV from the upstairs iMac – and typing this post on my iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard. Which is where we’ve gotten to from what was introduced today. But a couple of things strike me:
1) Steve said the iPhone was five years ahead of every other phone out there. If you consider that Jellybean will finally clear up the touch-response UI issues on Android, he nailed it pretty good.
2) He quoted Alan Kay, who long ago said “People who are serious about software should make their own hardware.” Within the last month, you’ve seen Google AND Microsoft introduce their own hardware to run their tablet operating systems, in both cases for the first time. Nailed it again.
3) Five years on it’s easy to forget just how revolutionary this was. There was no other phone, as far as I know, that had staked itself on one big screen. My old SonyEricsson P800 was technically capable of it, but shipped with a physically-attached keypad flip and a stylus dug into one side. And it was as thick as two iPhones stacked. Nobody had multitouch. Nobody had a viable browser that wasn’t a hodgepodge of WAP and proxy browsing. Nobody had visual voicemail.
4) Amazing in retrospect that Yahoo Mail was a big feature, especially since it was the only option at launch for push email. Exchange was only supported via IMAP. For that matter, it’s remarkable to see the top left corner read “cingular” – that was long gone by the time the thing actually arrived.
5) On further review, did that split-pane email view ever make it to the production device? I don’t remember ever seeing that at all. Then again, I was busy checking the stock and seeing if we had a winner in the “which rep will demand one of these before the keynote even ends” derby. I don’t recall the flashing phone icon either.
6) Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, part of the iPhone rollout. Times have changed. For that matter, Jerry Yang as Chief Yahoo…five years is an eternity in this valley.
7) “We’ve filed for over two hundred patents and we intend to protect them.” People who bitch about the lawsuits – it’s not like we weren’t warned. I think it’s proof of how important iOS devices were to Steve that he was bound and determined not to have a repeat of Macintosh – this time, the look and feel would be protected to the best of their ability. Which probably explains Steve’s incredible venom toward Android – Steve probably saw another cut-rate knockoff with the potential to take over because it was good enough. And it may yet happen, but not today.
8) Cingular went into contract with Apple without ever seeing the device. Given that they were the only viable carrier – the only GSM carrier in the US with dual-band coverage – Apple really didn’t have a choice without making a hell of a mess for themselves selling abroad. But then again, that’s Steve. We may never see that kind of sell-water-to-a-fish charisma again (although there’s a guy down in middle Tennessee who might just catch him).
9) That exclusivity deal lasted until…when? Late 2010? A three year deal sounds about right; we suspected as much as five at the time and were pretty sure it would be at least two.
10) And the infamous clicker cut-out, which produced about a minute of awkward before Steve went into the anecdote about Woz and the TV jammer. It always warmed my heart to have Woz show up or even be name-checked at an Apple event – respect your heritage.
11) Apple wanted 1% market share by the end of 2008. By 2011, they were making literally half the profit in the entire worldwide mobile phone handset industry.
12) And Apple Computer becomes just plain old Apple. Prophetic, because the iOS devices are the rocket this company rides on now. “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.” If you wanted a mission statement for the last five years at Apple, you could hardly do better.
Steve said this product was going to change the industry. Five years on, every new phone is a smartphone, and you can pretty much split the history of mobile into Before iPhone and After iPhone. Again – nailed it. And I know it was on the backslope of my time there – by October I was gone – but it’s still awesome to know that I was there, and it was during my tenure that the game was changed for good.