Former Apple director: the original iPhone ‘was not a great phone, it was an OK phone’

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.

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?