5 years ago today, Apple re-invented the phone

5 years ago today, Steve Jobs took to the Macworld 2007 stage and introduced 3 new products -- a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communicator. An iPod, a phone, an internet communicator. We got it. They weren't 3 seperate devices. They were one device.

They called it iPhone.

5 years ago today, Apple re-invented the phone

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

5 years ago today, Apple re-invented the phone


Its pretty crazy to me how he talked about the iPhone being 5 years ahead of its time. Yet, here we are, five years later, and everyone else is still trying to catch up. Mobile Safari alone, even back then, was better than the vast majority of mobile web browsers today.
You really have to go back every now and then and watch this video to see how truly revolutionary the iPhone was for its time. I laughed when everyone oooh'ed and aaaah'ed at how his playlist rubberbanded when he scrolled to the bottom, or how they cheered just for the swipe-to-unlock, but think about it. These were things that had never been seen before, at least not like that. It literally was almost like magic.
There are lots of great products out now, and I'm glad that it forced everyone else to step up their game, but let's not forget what set all of tho into motion. It was that press conference. If not for the iPhone, we'd still be walking around with big bricks and 2" resistive touch screens. After this, nothing was the same.

Yeah, let's all ignore the fact that LG presented a big-screen capacitive phone almost a year earlier called Prada, signaling that the industry was already going that way, and that iPhone sales were no greater than other smartphones at the time like the N95, which had 3G (already common at the time and that took Apple a full year to implement) and a 5MP camera, which Apple only caught up four years later. What good was mobile Safari without 3G?
Apple has many merits, most of them in the form of iOS, not specifically the iPhone, but people tend to give it waaaay too much credit, like Apple did not build upon everything else that was going on at the time.
Palm, Nokia and Microsoft had apps going on for a while then, which created the culture of mobile accessibility well ahead of the iPhone. It was a great device, right for the time, but the revolution did not start there, it was already well under way.

"Apple has many merits, most of them in the form of iOS, not specifically the iPhone, but people tend to give it waaaay too much credit, like Apple did not build upon everything else that was going on at the time."
I think many people try to take "waaaay" too much credit away from it. Ultimately devices like the N95, Motorola Q, BlackBerry 8100 and the Prada were good steps, but I highly doubt (even with what everyone says) that we'd been where we are today with the sort of tight integrations and seamless applications had the iPhone not come about.
Apple didn't create the first mid-sized touch screen device, but what they did do, was make it viable, with the previous way the industry was headed devices like that wouldn't have been adopted on the scale they are today, regardless of what anyone says, we'd still be looking at apps the way we were in 2006, and while Android would without a doubt still exist, I believe it would be very different to how we know it today.
I feel as though Android has been shaped by the crowd of consumers looking for what Apple don't provide, more control over the back end of the device, open, non-curated or controlled application environment and devices pushing forward using new hardware (in some cases before it's likely anything close to a good idea), Google took advantage of this, and it's great they did, because it created competition in the market for which the iPhone is forced to compete.
I'm not trying to dilute what you've said, but I do disagree when you say Apple is often times given too much credit, maybe they're given too much credit when people claim they totally created an entire segment (Siri, for example is just voice control), but I don't think it's fair to generalize that Apple are given too much credit for what they've done, as in many cases they've defined what something should look like or how it should work,
(P.S - I used Mobile Safari on EDGE, on my first gen iPhone, and actually was forced to use it on my 3G and 3GS seeing as I was on T-Mobile until this time last year. Sure it was far from ideal, but it worked, and while slow, it was better than anything else out there, and so I, among many others, was willing to put up with it. I'd also argue that the 5mp camera in the iPhone 4 takes far superior photos to the N95, thanks in part to the backside illuminated sensor in the 4, and the better software processing, that the N95 couldn't have handled with the processor it had at the time.)

I actually agree with you. I only take exception that people think Apple invented the smartphone segment, invented apps, invented the touchscreen and brought upon a revolution from scratch all by itself.
I think articles like this should recognize the creativity of Palm for instance, which started the whole downloadable apps thing, and Motorola, which started the slimming down of phones and trying to make them sexy.
The iPhone was a big evolution, not a revolution. All the pieces were there already, and most of them were already been used the way Apple used them, on Symbian and Windows Mobile for instance. Apple made it better, prettier, friendlier, which is great of course.

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Thanks for the reminder of this date in computing history: the day the mobile computer was born.

I do love this press conference, anyone even remotely interested in tech or Product launches in general should be made to watch this - classic, literally....

Apple didn't invent the Smartphone, Apps, or the Touchscreen. What they did was integrate functionality that works into an attractive form factor with an operating system that can all be used easily, effectively, and enjoyably by someone who doesn't have an engineering degree. Now five years later, look at all the "ME TOO" products. A lot of them look and act like the iPhone and after the iPad, same thing. "ME TOO" tablets, which by the way still aren't selling with any degree of market penetration. So iPhone haters may not like it but the fact is that the iPhone did revolutionize the Smartphone Industry. Then others followed and tried to either copy or do it better. Anyone standing in line to buy Android products at launch? No. Case closed.

Humm...actually there were people in line to buy both the Galaxy Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus S II. Case open, I guess.
People were in line to buy Windows 7 too, but no one was in line to buy iMacs or MacBooks. What does this proves anyway?

I still have the original vintage 2007 8GB iPhone (which I've unlocked and am using on T-Mobile USA with a prepaid SIM card). It's obviously way slow by today's standards, and it's a little scratched and dinged up (not bad for a nearly 5-year-old iPhone), but it's still perfectly usable and works just fine. Amazingly, the screen has still survived intact. I use it as my backup phone in case my "daily driver" 32GB iPhone 4 runs out of power (unlikely), or if I'm in a spot where AT&T has no reception but T-Mo does (slightly more likely). Plus I just love the way the original iPhone feels in my hand. I actually like the feel of it more than my iPhone 4 without its case (tho my 4 rarely leaves its Otter Box case anyway). Despite its age, several of my friends and co-workers have offered to buy it off me but I like it too much to sell it. I think I'll keep it. Who knows, it might be a collector's item someday. So, yeah, I'm still proudly rocking the original iPhone...