On January 9, 2007 the late Steve Jobs put sneaker to Macworld stage to give one of the most incredible keynote presentations of his life - a life filled with incredible keynotes - and in the history of consumer electronics. There, he said he would be introducing a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet device. But it wasn't three products. It was one product. We got it. It was the iPhone.
After setting up and knocking down everything from the physical keyboard and stylus pens that dominated BlackBerry, Motorola, and Palm smartphones of the day, Jobs went over the multitouch interface that let the iPhone smoothly pinch-to-zoom, and the delightful interface that included touches like inertia and rubber banding in the scrolling, and the multitasking that let him move seamlessly from music to call to web to email and back.
iPhone: Technology alone wasn't enough
The original iPhone, code named M68 and model number iPhone1,1, had a 3.5-inch screen at 320x480 and 163ppi, a quad-band 2G EDGE data radio, 802.11b.g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, and a 2 megapixel camera. It was powered by an ARM-based Samsung 1176JZ(F)-S processor and PowerVR MBX Lite 3D graphics, with an 1400 mAh battery, and had 128MB of RAM on board, as well as 4GB or 8GB of NAND Flash storage. The iPhone could also be charged - and synced to iTunes - via the same 30-pin Dock connector as Apple's incredibly popular iPod.
The iPhone did include several sensors to enhance the user experience, including an accelerometer that could automatically rotate the screen to match device orientation, a proximity sensor that could automatically turn off the screen when close to the face, and an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust brightness. It also had a remarkably good web browser and rendering engine, especially for its time, in Safari and WebKit.
What the original iPhone didn't have was CDMA and EVDO rev A network compatibly. That meant it couldn't work on two of the U.S.' big four carriers, Verizon and Sprint. Not that it mattered; the original iPhone was exclusive to AT&T. It also lacked GPS, or support for faster 3G UTMS/HSPA data speeds. In addition to no hardware keyboard or stylus, the iPhone also didn't have a removable, user-replaceable battery. None of that pleased existing power users of the time. Nor did the absence of features like MMS (multi-media messaging), an exposed file system, copy and paste or any form of advanced text editing, and, critically to many, support for third party apps.
iPhone: Less is more
The original iPhone's price was also high. It debuted at $499 for the 4GB and $599 for the 8GB model - on-contract. Those prices weren't unheard of at the time; early Motorola RAZR flip phones were pricey in their day as well. However, it meant Apple couldn't penetrate the mainstream market.
On September 5, 2007, at Apple's "The Beat Goes On" music event, Steve Jobs announced they were dropping the 4GB model entirely, and dropping the price of the 8GB model to $399. On February 5, 2008, at the they introduced a 16GB model. There was still no subsidized price, even on contract, but there was movement.
By June of 2008, when Apple discontinued the original iPhone - later to be nicknamed the iPhone 2G - total sales had reached over 6 million units. That was on four carriers in four countries. But its impact was felt far beyond those numbers or borders. And it was just beginning...
Next would come the iPhone 3G.