That title is a fairly profound statement but it is absolutely true. On January 9, 2007 Steve Jobs took to the stage to introduce the world to the iPhone.
Jobs said that Apple were releasing three products that day: A phone, a white screen iPod and the revolutionary Internet device.
That’s just what they did and from that point on, we were another 6 months till the actual hardware was in the hands of customers in America and over another 6 months after that for the rest of the world to get it.
The iPhone is 10 years old now and we can thank it for creating the modern smartphone as we know it. There’s been an uncountable number of articles published about yesterday’s anniversary and as ever you’ll not see one from Apple, as they don’t really look back (the ‘Designed by Apple in California’ kind of is) they just move forward. That’s why I wanted to muse on what happened the day after the iPhone was announced.
See, after we all watched the presentation and read what was on the Apple website, the dust began to settle. What was actually coming and what would it mean? Steve Balmer, then CEO of Microsoft said ‘There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.’. This was probably the most circulated statement at the time. Come on, this was 2007 and he was the head of Microsoft, he was the man in the know. He knew business and also said ‘it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard. Which makes it not a very good email machine.’.
At the time, people were commenting on how stupid Apple were to only ship the phone using the EDGE mobile internet protocol and to not include a true GPS chip for location services. The camera was 2 megapixels for pity’s sake! Who would want this phone when you could have a Nokia N95 with a 5MP camera, 3G and full GPS and it’s cheaper! When I started thinking clearly on that next day, these were my thoughts. Hell, I had an N95, but there was something with the iPhone that meant I had to have it. It wasn’t just me, lots and lots of people were thinking the same thing.
Over the space of a few years, the people that talked down the device were proven extremely wrong but the day after the world changed, they all hit the defensive. Press releases, interviews and the news cycle all reported from Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola. Thing is, do you know what each of those companies did in the day after? They cancelled projects and device launches. They rolled back all their plans because they had just been so out manoeuvred that it was embarrassing. Yes, I invented the smartphone many years before that, but the larger companies has showed ideas to this kind of hardware at trade shows but never created an actual product. Let’s face it, they all failed at software rather than the hardware.
When it comes to software, Apple built an industry that in 2016 delivered $20 Billion for developers. Jobs always used to say that Apple made great boxes for their software. It’s what the iPod was, the Mac and later the iPhone. See, the day after the day that changed the world everyone was looking at the phone, it was only the people in Cupertino looking inside it.
Here’s to the next 10 years of excellent software in excellent boxes.