Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave the world its first look at the iPhone – as well as a glimpse into a very different future for personal computing and communications – on this day in history, January 9, 2007.
“It’s not only the best-selling gadget ever created: it’s also probably the most influential,” Wired wrote in a 2018 retrospective of the first decade of the iPhone.
“Their impact goes beyond other phones — the infrastructure that makes the iPhone has also enabled drones, smart home gadgets, wearables and self-driving cars.”
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The iPhone introduced a fingertip touchscreen, a powerful camera, and easy Internet access, among many other features, providing huge advancements over existing smartphones like the Blackberry, Moto Q, and Palm Treo.
“Once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” Jobs, in his black turtleneck, boasted at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco.
The Apple co-founder noted that the Macintosh in 1984 “changed the entire computer industry” and the iPod (introduced on the same January 9 date as the iPhone, but in 2001) “changed the entire music industry.”
“Today we are introducing three revolutionary products,” he added.
“Once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” – Steve Jobs
Apple’s new offerings included a “widescreen iPod with touch controls” and a “high-end communications device”.
Macworld’s audience erupted, however, when it was reported that among the three new products was a “revolutionary mobile phone.”
Apple had not yet entered the burgeoning smartphone market at that point. So tech enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting the dramatic entry of the long-time leading computer giant in the sector.
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Jobs, who died in October 2011 after a long battle with cancer, performed in the drama.
He warned that “these are not three separate devices.” “This is one device and we call it the iPhone.”
The first generation iPhone was, in many days, very different from the ones we see in use today. For one thing, it was small, just 4.5 inches by 2.4 inches. By comparison, the iPhone XS Max launched in 2018 is 6.2 inches. by 3.05 inches,” Steven Silver wrote for Apple Insider in 2018.
The latest model, the iPhone 14, comes in a 6.7-inch version.
Silver added that the first iPhone “also had no third-party apps at all, and topped out with 16GB of flash memory. The first iPhone was exclusive to AT&T, and only ran on a slow, unreliable EDGE GSM network.”
However, the author and other experts note, “The first iPhone was of great importance.”
It was also very popular.
“iPhone sales accounted for 52% of Apple’s $365 billion in sales in 2021.”
Apple sold 6.1 million first-generation iPhones between the time it released the product to the public on June 29, 2007, and it discontinued it on July 15, 2008.
Greg Packer, then 59, a former highway maintenance worker from Long Island, is credited with being the first person to purchase an iPhone on June 29 at an Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan after reportedly camping out all week.
About 2 billion iPhones have been sold since its introduction, with nearly 800 million in use worldwide today — about one in every 10 people on the planet, according to estimates by various tech analysts.
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The iPhone, and the technological advances it has forced on other smartphones, have had a profound impact on the way people live.
“Millions of people use the iPhone as their only computer,” Wired notes. “And their only camera, GPS, music player, communicator, trip planner, gender finder and payment tool. It puts the world in our pocket.”
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It also created a whole new industry of app developers, accessory makers, and social media giants.
The iPhone also had an immediate and profound impact on Apple’s profits.
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CNET reported in October 2008 that “Just under 40% of Apple’s revenue can now be attributed to the iPhone”.
iPhone sales accounted for 52% of Apple’s $365 billion in 2021 sales, according to company reports.
The impact of the iPhone on our lives has been profound.
The way humans attend concerts and sporting events, follow directions and record their daily lives has all changed with the presence of the iPhone.
But whether the iPhone is a positive for the community remains to be seen, some experts argue.
Sociologist Jodi Wakeman, Heidi Hackford writer for the Museum of Computer History wrote in 2018: “In 2007, when the iPhone first came out, people welcomed it warmly.
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“It was seen, like cell phones before, as another useful way to sync with family, friends, and the community. But, is that line between work time and personal time eroded further by the device? And has it become a poor substitute for ‘real’ relationships?”
The author also noted, “As with any new technology, reviews are mixed.”