On this day six years ago, the original iPhone went on sale at Apple and AT&T stores in the United States – following six months of unbelievable hype and media frenzy that I suspect won’t repeat anytime soon. It’s somewhat hard to grasp that it’s been six years already and that the original Jesus phone, as the media nicknamed it, was so rapidly obsoleted by subsequent models that it’s now become a piece of history itself.
A lot has changed since June 29, 2007. The iPhone back then didn’t have the App Store and was pitched as three devices in one: a “widescreen iPod with touch controls,” a “revolutionary mobile phone” and a “breakthrough Internet communicator”.
Today, it’s anything you want it to be thanks to smart developers who pour their heart and soul into their apps, and there are now 900,000+ of them in the App Store. It’s fair to say there’s a world of difference between 2007 and 2013 in terms of mobile technology, here’s why…
The landscape was radically different back then.
Nokia was the top dog in cell phones. Poor Samsung was an also-ran. Cocky Research In Motion ruled the boardroom. And nobody could touch greedy carriers. Back then, Steve Jobs hadn’t lost yet his tremendously courageous and bravely public fight against cancer that would take his life four years later, on October 5, 2011.
In introducing the iPhone during the January 2007 keynote, he put up a great show and arguably the best product presentation ever.
Back then, there were no stupid patent infringement lawsuits than span continents because established handset makers were in a state of shock when the iPhone sold its first millionth unit just 74 days after introduction so they weren’t even thinking about copying Apple’s technology.
This is also gold: Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer trash-talking the iPhone.
Talk about the lack of insight.
So today things are so different yet very familiar.
Gizmodo is blacklisted from Apple’s media events. And, believe it or not, we’ve come alive through Antennagate, Glassgate, Mapsgate and other fabricated scandals. Yes those were real issues, but blown way out of proportion.
The media is hating on Apple so much that it’s beyond belief.
Yet, this isn’t surprising as journalists, analysts and business executives have pronounced Apple death sentences over the years. In fact, according to Bryan Chaffin at the Mac Observer, Apple is pronounced dead or dying every few weeks.
Apple is being called out for its slipping market share, as if the company ever led the pack in terms of market share. Quite the opposite, since its inception the iPhone has captured the bulk of industry profits with a tiny share of the handset market.
Back then, the iPhone took crappy pictures and couldn’t shoot video.
Today, it captures full HD footage and takes eight-megapixel snaps, and will soon enter the twelve-megapixel territory with the introduction of the iPhone 5S later this year. Small wonder that the top three most popular cameras on Flickr are iPhones.
Back then, the summer was for the new iPhone.
In 2011, the trend reversed and now new iPhones get introduced in Fall, closer to the start of the all-important holiday shopping season. Back then, everyone wanted an iPhone because competition couldn’t offer a comparable experience as it was in dire straits.
Nowadays, competition is heightened.
Rivals are becoming increasingly aggressive in their marketing pitches and advertising against Apple, carriers are back on their feet and balking at Apple and click-hungry bloggers are throwing mud at the company over the iOS 7 icons that most happen to like after all.
If you just glance at tech headlines these days, Apple has lost its cool and is doomed.
Yet, the iPhone remains America’s top selling smartphone, the most profitable product and the top brand in terms of customer satisfaction - and those are metrics money can’t buy – so Apple must be doing something right after all.
Indeed, it doesn’t take a genius to see who’s the king of the sea and who’s the bottom feeder who pays students to lambast the iPhone in web comments, lives off other people’s ideas and derides Apple with every ad in the hope of painting itself comparable with Apple.
Yes, competition has caught up with Apple – and in some cases overtaken it, mostly in terms of meaningless features that are outside of Apple’s primary focus. No, there is nothing wrong with top smartphones from Samsung, Nokia, BlackBerry, HTC et al.
But that after six years nobody came close to creating their own unique experiences that are as lively, delightful and seamless as the iPhone tells me little has changed in terms of innovation since 2007 as most vendors remained complacent.
So instead of throwing mud at Apple, naysayers should applaud Apple.
Because, if it weren’t for the iPhone, carriers would still control everything. There would be nothing like the App Store where a guy in a living room could make a fortune writing mobile apps. Vendors would be churning out cheap plasticky devices and paying little attention to industrial design and seamless integration.
And smartphones would have never become as pervasive and integral to our lives.
And with iOS 7, Apple has taken a step in the right direction, in many ways breathing new life into its mobile operating system. Not only does it look prettier and easier on the eyes, iOS 7 will spur developers to re-think and de-clutter their apps, ushering in a new era of clean yet sophisticated software design.
And when your favorite apps get updated with iOS 7 look and feel, you’ll realize why speeds and feeds don’t really matter much and why the iPhone is such an iconic smartphone.
Disagree with me, vilify me or call me stupid – but the iPhone isn’t going anywhere.