8 years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced Apple's iPhone

8 years ago today Steve Jobs put sneaker to Macworld stage in what was arguably the greatest keynote in his and Apple's history of great keynotes. Following the industry-changing Mac and the iPod, Jobs claimed Apple was going to introduce 3 more revolutionary products — a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and revolutionary phone, and a breakthrough internet communicator. He asked if we got it. We did. We got the hell out of it. Not 3 products but 1. The iPhone.

Instantly everything that came before was rendered obsolete. Google pivoted on a dime and went from targeting Android at BlackBerry and Windows Mobile to targeting Apple. Palm rebooted with webOS and the Pre. BlackBerry tried to make a go of the Storm. Microsoft started over with Windows Phone 7, and then again with Windows Phone 8. BlackBerry 10 launched. Dozens and dozens of imitations hit the market, yet the entire industry was also reborn.

8 years ago screens were mostly square, keyboards were mostly hardware, web browsers were mostly unusable, the most basic of apps were $30 and crashed — a lot. Simply getting email to work on mobile was considered magic. Now we have computers in our pockets far more powerful than the ones on our laps and desks were back then.

Steve Jobs is no longer with us, but his 2007 keynote will live on forever. Here it is again. Watch it, and let me know — what phone were you using back then, and what did you think of the iPhone when you got it?

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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

8 years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced Apple's iPhone


I had a Sony Ericsson K610i. My 2-year contract expired just as the iPhone 3G was released in 2008. I couldn't believe it when I walked out of the store with an iPhone 3G - actually two, one each for my wife and I. I remember it was a pinch myself moment.

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I had a Blackberry. It was either a Bold or a Curve but I remember feeling screen envy when I saw the first iPhone models out and about. Definitely a pivitol moment in mobile!

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Yep, crazy as it may sound now, when the original iPhone first came out, its 3.5" screen was considered pretty big at that time, when most phones' screens were much smaller (my BlackBerry Curve had a 2.5" screen). How times have changed.

I dunno. But in Turkey until the 2011 bb was really popular so I bought a Torch in 2010 and salesman recommended me an iphone 4 but I said thats a bad phone. Worst. Decision. Ever. The moment my contract was done was the day iPhone 5 came to Turkey and I bought right away.

I had a Nokia N95, I think. It had a better 5MPx camera in 2007 than Apple could make till 2010 or 2011. It relied entirely on extremely-advanced and superbly-crafted optics due to complete lack of processing power on phones at the time. I did get an iPhone when iP5 came out and after having used WP, it was a kind of, meh, experience. I felt like I was travelling back in time to desktop-born UIs and miniature screens and horrible antenna performance. It was like a trip back to 2007 -- unsurprising, since iPhones had not really changed after their introduction.

I eventually sold the phone. I guess what broke the camel's back was Apple utter disregard of its international customers (No Siri, Passbook, working Maps, dictation, nor even LTE bands. Add the cheaply-made localisations to the bunch.) Having experienced the Nokia/MS combo where the user was put in the centre, where the highly-accesible, re-thought-from-ground-up touch-centred UI was of this decade, where first parrty apps were better than the 3rd party alternatives on iOS, where maps just worked... and where the camera took better pics; what ever magic had taken place in 2007 on that stage in Copertino had dissapidated over the years.

And the iphone cost USD 1000 -- and still does.

I preferred Symbian over iOS at the time. iOS looked prettier and had the app ecosystem; but Symbian was techncially far superior, and was, first and foremost, a user's OS, a bit like Android but made right. A Symbian device could multitask back in 2005 (later e.g. running Sportstracker and a Skype call simultaneously, which was handy at times, or navigating and listening to internet radio at the same time, etc.) A single charge usually gave you a week's standby time or three days of active app use, not the half-a-day that was intorduced with WP's and iOS's and Androids. This was possible because Symbian had been built from the ground up as a mobile OS, while the more modern ones are simply dumbed down desktop OS's. That is why they are so power-ineffecient.

Quickly-evolving app ecosystems and overall 'gamification' triumphed over tecnological prowess, and so Symbian is no more. Now that I think of it, everything that Nokia did, hardware or otherwise, can be characterised as 'technically superior, but not as pretty, nor as well marketed.' And beauty, e.g. smoother animations, and branding, today rule over quality in consumer electronics. It is a new era.

Today I am again a dumb-phone user. I put a fresh 3rd-party battery in my 2003-era old Nokia and now have four weeks of standby time, proper earpiece, and good signal reception -- something none of the modern crap 'smart' phones can offer. But then, this unit was not made in China by a kid, like the Samsungs and iPhones of this world, but was assembled in Germnay or Finland. (not sure which factory.) It is relic of an era that will never come back. It is a testimony to quality that will, perhaps, also never come back.

So all that to say you would rather have a dumb phone just because of battery life? Wow dude. Have fun with that.

Battery life, camera, signal, clear speech on both ends of the call. It's a damn phone m8 and it should do phone things best.

Posted from the amazing whatever device I can afford because I'm a broke college kid.

I have to agree mostly because at that time I was also using an Nokia N95 (limited edition Pink... yes I'm bragging :P)
For what we needed back at that time, Symbian did it all and for me personally I had everything I needed in my pocket. I was a photog and companies like Kodak Mobile catered to the Symbian environment, in fact, many companies catered to it. The first Twitter app I used was on Symbian. Apps weren't $30 and the Opera mobile browser worked flawlessly.
I was anti-iPhone at it's first existence because of words that people used to describe it. First touch screen device was the main one that bothered me because that was claimed by the SE P800. Groundbreaking... ok maybe I can go with that because of course it brings us to where we are now.
Now... I'm a big fan of my iPhone 6 and from time to time I do pull my Nokia out of storage, lol. Battery still gives me a full day and the charger isn't frayed beyond use. :P

I had a Samsung Instinct (first generation). I remember when a buddy compared the original iPhone to my Instinct, and at the time, there were a few advantages each had over the other. And still too many features lacking for me at the time, so my next phone was a Blackberry Bold. It wasn't until the iPhone 4 redesign that I decided to jump ship - and I haven't looked back. I've owned every iteration since. I love my 6 Plus (after two months with the smaller 6) and can't wait to see what they do next with the software

I hung in there with my Treo until the Palm Pre came out and I was amazed! I avoided Apple at the time because I kept resisting the idea that the Apple fans could be right all those years when I heard "Get a Mac!" in response to my complaints about Windows etc.

I loved the Pre, webOS, and Homebrew until HP killed it. So I decided to give the new iPhone 4S a try. Loved it right away! Then went all-in with Apple a few months later, got a iMac and an iPad. Smartest thing I've ever done computer/phone-wise...

I had a hello...slide out keyboard and flip up phone. Thought that was genius at the time.

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I had the Nokia N95 8gb edition which I swiftly traded in for iPhone plus a little extra cash. Definitely a defining moment in the mobile market. A joyful phone even with the lack of a copy and paste feature. Still remember the amazement on mine and my friends faces using the lighter app and watching the flame flicker as you blew at the speaker.

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I was using a Palm Treo 680, which I admittedly loved, because of one app -- PocketMoney, and the keyboard, which was pretty easy to use. I wasn't an early adopter of the first gen iPhone, since it was expensive and if memory serves me right, upgrade pricing wasn't available on it. But, when the iPhone 3g came out a year later -- it was ON.

I remember plotting with a friend at the time the best way to find it and then standing in line at 6am at an At&t store and sharing Dunkin Donuts with all of my line-mates for it. After getting the phone, my friend and I were actually interviewed for a Chinese publication about getting the phone. The article can be seen here: http://english.cri.cn/4026/2008/07/12/1881s379964.htm

I had a LG flip phone lol. I remembering getting the iPhone 3G and feeling like I had a computer in pocket lol.

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The first iPhone did not have the impact described here, and it not only did not sell that well but got weak reviews too. At a time when most phones had 3G, the iPhone did not, and at a time when some phones already had 5MP cameras with video capability, the iPhone camera was an abysmal 2MP without video, and would only receive video on the 3GS. There was no store and thus no 3rd party apps. The success of the iPhone came with its evolution, not with its release. And, to be fair, the path to the modern smartphone was set by Palm years before, not by Apple.
I had a Qualcomm at the time, and remember looking at the battery time of the iPhone and thinking it was a bad joke.

At the time the iPhone came out, I was on a Samsung flip phone then onto the Moto RIZE, which fell apart 2 months later. I then went onto the blackberry pearl to then go back to the Moto RAZR2. After that I went on to the very first android, the T-Mobile G1, then for the next 3 years of androids with their up and down and mostly down experiences. I refused for 4 years to switch my carrier just to get a phone. At that time AT&T was the exclusive to anything Apple. I was and am still on T-Mobile. Fast forward to 2013 after I lost my last nerve to to Android, and when T-Mobile started to upgrade their network, I then bought an unlocked iPhone 5. It was the best decision ever. I had a phone that worked and is well supported. I am now on an iPhone 6. The only way I will consider android or WP is if Apple stopped making the iPhone.

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I envied everyone that owned an iPhone at the time (i was a blackberry user on verizon). I'm not sure if i wanted an iPhone or the experience that the iPhone offered.

I had the first iPhone. It sucked. Then they brought the 3G out & I thought I would get a better camera, speed, video, but got a crappy Plastic phone chassis & same gimped display. It's then when I went to Sprint & back to Palm & the Pre. I LOVED that phone. Fuck you, HP.

Was on Verizon for awhile, so I didn't get an iPhone until they finally carried the iPhone 4 back in 2011. Good times.

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I had a cheap Virgin Mobile Slice back then (early 2007). Not the greatest phone, just a basic CDMA dumbphone. lol But it was all I could afford at the time.

I was blown away by the original iPhone when I first saw it, and I wanted one immediately. There was nothing else like it. But it was just prohibitively expensive for me at the time, and it lacked some key features that were important to me (cut/copy/paste... hello?), so I ended up getting a BlackBerry Curve instead.

I eventually did get an iPhone, three years later (2010) when the old BB Curve finally died and I upgraded to an iPhone 4. I eventually did get one of the original iPhones for cheap ($100) as a backup phone in case something were to happen to my 4. Now I'm rocking an iPhone 6.

Yea then he died because the only technology he trusted was Apple & not modern science. Then the butt pirates took over the show & crippled any further forward progress & just was stuck in the mud, copying Android.

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Great article. 8 years seems like a longer time ago than it was. Hard to think of life before these devices.

I had a Nextel Blackberry. That thing was bulletproof and did great at what it was supposed to do. I was mid contract under my business, and my boss had no intention of switching to AT&T. I did get an iPod Touch, and loved it. Every time they increased storage I would get it and longed for the day I could have 2 combined devices. My boss switched to Verizon and after using numerous Iterations of Droid and the Palm Pre+ iPhone finally came to Verizon. I was in Heaven!

8 years in and I can only imagine what will be 8 years from now.

I remember I had a Blackberry Pearl for my personal phone. I remember the first iPhone coming out but not being too impressed by the fact it lacked some basic smartphone capabilities like cut & paste and third party apps. Then in December 2009 I was on a public transit bus with a buddy and we were trying to figure out how far away we were from our destination. He had an iPhone 3GS. We both whipped out our phones to check our GPS position. The 3GS picked up our location inside 2 seconds, while my Pearl was still taking its time triangulating with the GPS satellites. It was like a lightening strike in the dark for me - it just dawned on me that my phone was outclassed handily. I got myself an iPhone 3GS as soon as I could after that experience and never looked back. Now I'm a proud owner of an iPhone 6 Plus.

I had the Treo 700p on Sprint. I waited forever to get the iPhone 4S on AT&T. I didn't care if Sprint was getting it at that time. But that was my first iPhone. I was very happy.

I was rocking a flip Nextel at the time and envy instantly set in. I wasn't ready to jump to AT&T because of the cost. I actually tried Blackberry Curves, the OG iPhone killer: the Samsung Instinct to stay with Sprint. The Blackberry Storm 2 got me to Verizon and about the time my contract was up for renewal the iPhone 4s dropped. It's crazy that it took 5 iterations of the iPhone to get me to iOS.

"Breakthrough internet communicator" got the weakest applause, yet was - without question - the single biggest paradigm shift presented. And it's not even close.

That was always funny to me.

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