Original iPhone (three-up, profile, front, back)

Believe it or not, Apple’s former director has apologized to the owners of the original iPhone because the handset, to paraphrase him, wasn’t really that great as Apple would have us believe at the time.

He pointed out that all of the technological pieces used in the original iPhone had been around for some time. Apple simply combined them seamlessly together in such a way that technology took a back seat to user interface, he underscored.

Specifically, he said Apple got its value proposition order the wrong way around in advertising the iPhone as three devices in one – a phone, an iPod and an Internet communicator. “It should have been the reverse”, he said at Mobile World Congress while speaking at a Dolby presentation, because ”having the Internet in your pocket was the most important”

Bob Borchers, Apple’s former Senior Director of Product Marketing for the original iPhone, has apologized to owners of the original iPhone, according to Trusted Reviews.

If you had the original iPhone I apologize.

It was not a great phone, it was an OK phone.

It may not have been a great phone when it comes to the phone part per se, but boy was it an awesome device when it came to everything else it brought to the table.

In hindsight, of course it’s easy to criticize the original iPhone for its glaring omissions, such as its sub-par camera or support for only slow 2G EDGE cellular networking. But customers who flocked to buy the device didn’t seem to care about these drawbacks.

That’s because Apple, as is its wont, focused on getting the few most important things right and then filling up the gaps by relentlessly iterating on the original design.

Bochers, now Dolby’s Chief Marketing Officer, thinks Apple should have refined its message to focus on the device’s promise of putting the Internet in people’s pockets:

There were three value propositions in order of importance: a revolutionary phone, the best iPod ever and the Internet in your pocket but in fact it should have been the reverse. Having the Internet in your pocket was the most important.

It was a great iPod but it was the connection to the Internet and the app community that made the difference.

The last bit very much remains true to this date.

Before the iPhone, only die-hard technophiles dared surf the web on their phones.

steve jobs original iphone

It was a cumbersome and frustrating affair.

Back then, there were no mobile-optimized web pages and only a handful of websites would serve so-called WAP pages. In fact, mobile devices and smartphones before the iPhone didn’t even have a desktop-class web browser to browse web pages in their full desktop glory.

The app community Bochers mentions played, in my view, the most important role in establishing the iPhone as an essential device. Nowadays, we spend most of our smartphone time in apps. Indeed, what would the iPhone be without the more than a million third-party apps offered in the App Store?

He also praised Apple’s focus on delighting users with seamless experiences rather than bragging about speeds and feeds:

What was interesting at Apple is that technology took a back seat to user interface. If you look at the iPhone as a technological element everything had been done before, it was about bringing all that together into an experience that was compelling and then communicating it as an experience not as a technology.

This immediately comes to mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpZmIiIXuZ0

That’s exactly what Apple is all about: finding a problem that needed solving and then using whatever cutting-edge technology is at its disposal to create experiences which solve real-world problems for customers.

This is why you don’t see Apple rushing out a smartwatch just because Samsung was first to market, or create digital cameras because the press thinks it should, or release a phablet until display technologies catch up with its stringent requirements, and so forth.

iPhone 6 concept (Federico Ciccarese 004)

To this effect, the original iPhone was truly a revolutionary device.

It caught competitors on the wrong foot, upended the mobile industry and kickstarted the mobile revolution we’re witnessing today. No other phone has ever been able to accomplish these feats.

Do you remember the first time you bought and turned on the original iPhone?

  • Willie

    I got to say, it may not be a good phone. But at least the design is really breakthrough as compared to the smartphones during that time.

    • Hyr3m

      Yeah, after years of miniaturization, everyone was waiting for “bulky” to make its huge comeback (pun intended)!

  • Jonathan

    At the time, it was a great phone in my opinion.

    • al7oot

      For me it was the best I had ever used beside all that crap phones from Nokia and Sony Ericsson, it was really something different in every way

  • Jonathan

    Why is the iTunes icon on the right? It’s not like Gridlock existed at the time..

    • planetcoalition

      It WAS like this in iOS 1.1. They opted for context over consistency.
      Just FYI, back then icon rearrangement wasn’t even possible. That was introduced in iOS 1.1.3.

      • Jonathan

        Ah, thank you. =)

  • Virus

    Only bad thing it was only 2G

    • Joey Soloo

      Yeah basically

    • Justin

      Even then, 3G was only available in certain places (way less than even LTE today) and the radios used were clunky and power hungry. Thats why Apple waited for the iPhone 3G.

  • Framboogle

    In 2007, it was probably the greatest phone of all time

  • Technocrz!

    He was sleeping since then now wakeup and passing this statement after 7 years.

  • Tom

    It WAS a great phone simply because it had a full web browser. It was unlike anything that had come before. It totally blew everything else out of the water.

  • Rick Kreuk

    If the iPhone with iPhone OS 1 was just an “OK phone”, what is a 5S with iOS 7 supposed to be? The worst phone ever?

    • Hyr3m

      Well… actually… yes.

    • mav3rick

      5s, debatable, as it has better upgraded internals, overall a better device but not as for the build over the great 4S. On the other hand, this new neonOS definitively buried the joy of eye candy graphics iOS was so unique for, under endless blinding white screens, neon colors, fisher price icons and even some downgraded features from iOS 6.

      • Rick Kreuk

        The A7 chip is great, though I completely agree the 4 and 4S had a superior design. The steel band made the device feel amazingly sturdy. With an iPhone 5 or 5s I’m afraid of accidentally bending the frame just by holding it too tight! And indeed, iOS 7 sucked all joy out of using iOS. That’s why my iPhone 5 is still my daily driver. It may be hard to believe for some, but the design (skeuomorphism) was one of the primary reasons I was still using iOS. Now iOS is just as annoying as android, while still lacking a lot of features.

  • jack

    I bought the iPhone 1 in 2008.. it was a really great phone that made everyone “wow” over it. I couldn’t hold it a minute without ppl wanting to check it out.

  • deepdvd

    320×480 Multitouch capacitive (i.e. no stylus or keyboard) display. _This_ was IMHO the primary (hardware) reason the iPhone was such a huge item.

  • Apple first phone ever that changed the entire industry.
    What’s great about that…? pfff…. (sarcasm off)

  • diggitydang

    I think this guy is just looking for attention… it was revolutionary at the time, to have all this technology in one device… nobody can say it was just “ok” when millions upon millions of people flocked to it and bought it, while other companies copied it. So what if the technology existed in parts and Apple just brought it all together… that’s what’s so amazing about it!!! It’s like saying the computer mouse existed in the past, so it’s no big deal that Apple brought it to the forefront of computing.

  • RarestName

    I remember the time my cousin allowed me to play around with her iPhone 2G. It was literally the best phone that I’d ever used. Two years later, I got the iPhone 3GS.

    • habeys777

      very true

  • Joshan Joy

    Steve showed us what a smartphone must be in 2007 (first iPhone)
    Then copy cats started copying

    i think this ‘former director’ joined in samsung

  • QuarterSwede

    Ithink he forgot how awful all of the phones used to be.

  • habeys777

    Steve showed us what a smartphone must be in 2007 (first iPhone)
    Then copy cats started copying

    i think this ‘former director’ joined in samsung , and he is trying to impress samsung users

  • Darryl Barnes

    It was a great device. It was unique and started the touch smartphone craze that we have today.

  • Meteochu

    Time’s changed and things get outdated. iPhone original was brilliant when it was first out. Now, it’s just another antique product many of us own 😉

  • BETOYELPO .

    Ey Bob Bochers if u are so smart to say that why u didnt invented it and somebody else (steve jobs) had to do it. I believe u were inteligent enough to do it so better shut up!!