Apple co-founder Steve Jobs during a keynote speech at the Macworld Conference & Expo in January 2007 introduced the world to “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough Internet communications device.”
Jobs was of course referring to the original iPhone, arguably the most influential consumer electronics device of the modern era. Today, Apple’s handset turns 10 years old.
Like most of my tech peers, I was in Las Vegas that week covering the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Aside from being totally overwhelmed (it was my first time covering CES) and completely exhausted (we drove more than 1,600 miles cross-country through a rowdy snow storm to get there), what I remember most about the show is a conversation I overheard involving an executive that flew out to San Francisco from Vegas just to attend Jobs’ keynote.
“How foolish,” I thought to myself.
In retrospect, Macworld was far more memorable than anything shown at CES that year.
Apple’s first smartphone was a groundbreaking device that bucked several tech trends – there was no keyboard, for goodness sake – but it wasn’t an overnight success and it was far from perfect. The iPhone was incredibly expensive, lacked 3G connectivity and didn’t feature a removable battery, just to name a few complaints at the time.
Despite this, the original iPhone did a lot of things remarkably well. Its user interface was incredibly intuitive, while the widescreen display was a thing of beauty. In time, Apple would use the device to launch the App Store, revolutionize mobile photography, and drive industry leaders resistant to change into oblivion (BlackBerry and Microsoft come to mind).
The first two iPhone models offered 4 GB or 8 GB of internal storage, selling for $499 and $599, respectively after signing a 2-year contract. They want on sale in the United States on June 29, 2007 with hundreds of customers lining up outside stores nationwide.
Apple over the past decade has survived multiple device-related controversies, fierce competition, and the death of its visionary co-founder to persist as the world’s most valuable brand. Without the iPhone, Apple would be a much different company today and so would be personal computing.