Compared to the current iPhone 12, the first iPhone of 2007 was surprisingly slow and incredibly limited, but it changed the world.
It was June 29, 2007 that the original iPhone went on sale in the US, and possibly that was the day that what users expected from a phone really started to change.
We and the phone industry knew it all for over five months, but it wasn’t until you were able to buy it that the impact of this little device began to be felt.
The original iPhone
Most of the concerns and criticisms about the original iPhone now seem peculiar, but mainly because the iPhone itself has retrained our ideas about what is normal. At the time, the best smartphones had certain key features that the iPhone lacked, and many people cared.
It was a big problem that the battery was sealed and couldn’t be changed. It was a big problem that the iPhone did not have a physical keyboard and that memory cards could not be added even if you remembered what they were for.
Interestingly, it wasn’t a big deal that the iPhone shipped without an App Store. Certainly, many people wanted third-party apps, but that wasn’t on the list of reasons why the iPhone would surely fail.
A completely valid and possible reason the iPhone was doomed was that it only worked with AT&T. Certainly a limitation, and certainly reason enough that some people didn’t buy, that exclusivity became part of the reason the iPhone succeeded.
Apple chose AT&T because, or rather the Cingular network that AT&T later bought, agreed with Apple’s demands for control. At the time, it was normal for networks to have at least a say in the hardware designs of the phones that were to use their cellular service.
It was also normal for these networks to insist that their own applications be included in the devices. But Apple had none of that, even if it meant starting with a single network in the US.
Back then, it was also normal for the price of phones to be subsidized so that users would get them cheaply at first and pay dearly over time. Apple initially sold the original iPhone for $ 499 and $ 599, depending on whether it had the 4GB or 8GB version.
Today, the iPhone 12 starts at $ 799 with 64GB and a carrier contract. The latest iPhone is substantially heavier than the original, at 162 grams compared to 135 grams.
But then it comes with a 6.1-inch screen, instead of a 4.5-inch one. And a 12MP dual camera system instead of a single 2.0MP rear camera.
No one could have predicted where the iPhone line would go over the next 14 years, but then, many believed that it would now get here.
Steve Jobs presents the iPhone
There are many things about the original introduction of the iPhone that are overlooked today because of what we know happened next and why we forgot about phones in 2007. Back then, we believed that phones were an established technology and Steve Jobs he worked hard on his speech. to change your mind.
Not only did he point out the shortcomings in phones that we all knew and, if we don’t love, accept, but he also positioned Apple with extreme precision. In truth, Apple had never made anything like the iPhone, but watch the speech and you’ll soon believe that the company had a legendary experience on mobile devices.
Now we know that the whole presentation was carried out together with strings and prayers. Still, it’s precision work that not only launches a device, it positions it.
And yet, at the time, enough people weren’t convinced or preferred not to be convinced.
No chance of success
Then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ridiculed the iPhone for almost every reason it would be successful and Windows phones would not.
“There’s no chance that the iPhone will get any significant market share,” he said in April 2007. “There’s no chance. It’s a $ 500 subsidized item. They can make a lot of money. But if you really take a look at the 1.3 billion of phones that are sold, I would rather have our software on 60%, 70% or 80% of them, than have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple could get. “
The CEOs of Blackberry, at the time, they were divided privately on the iPhone. Mike Lazaridis said of Apple that “these guys are very, very good.” Jim Balsillie said, “Okay, we’ll be fine.”
The tech industry is strangely conservative about change, tending to base its judgments on what has worked before. So did much of the technology media industry.
June 29, 2007, without a doubt, appeared to be a huge success for Apple. There were queues everywhere, it seemed like this was the big hit that, well, it finally was.
However, things must have gone a little less well than expected, because in September Apple cut prices. The 4GB version was dropped and the 8GB version was reduced from $ 599 to $ 399. If you could get one, the unsold 4GB models were reduced to $ 299.
Later, Steve Jobs reported receiving hundreds of emails from angry shoppers who had paid full price, so Apple corrected things. Or at least, he made an effort.
For a time, anyone who had paid full price could have a $ 100 credit. That still meant they had paid $ 100 more than subsequent buyers, and it didn’t mean they got that refund.
However, if he had paid the full amount, he tended not to be unhappy with the phone itself. The price, no doubt, but not the iPhone.
“It turns out that much of the publicity and some of the criticism is justified,” wrote David Pogue in the New York Times. “The iPhone is revolutionary; it has flaws. It is substance; it is style. It does things that no phone has done before; it lacks features found in even the most basic phones.”
“Despite some feature glitches and omissions, the iPhone is in balance, a beautiful, revolutionary handheld.” Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret wrote in the Wall street journal. “Its software especially sets a new standard for the smartphone industry, and its smart touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, although it sometimes adds steps to common functions.”
According to Statista, Apple sold 1.9 million iPhones in 2007, despite not being available until the end of June. And despite not seeing a price cut until September.
It is not possible to directly compare that year with the present, as Apple stopped publishing sales figures for the iPhone in 2018. However, in the latest data before that cut-off date, Apple sold 216.76 million iPhones in 2017 .
Short and long term success
The original iPhone was discontinued on July 15, 2008, but it lives on in the gear collections of many Apple fans. It lives in the range of the iPhone 12, actually the 13th revision since that original.
And it’s still alive on the screens and technology of just about every smartphone you can possibly buy today.
Maybe Samsung, Microsoft, Huawei and the rest would have created full-screen phones, all multi-touch screens, that revolutionized the world.
Apple did it, and the iPhone is a rare case in which you can point to the moment when an entire industry changed. Maybe that date was the launch of the iPhone, maybe it was during the five months and 20 days that we waited and other manufacturers rushed in.
Or maybe it was June 29, 2007.
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