I remember the original iPhone launch like it was yesterday, and I remember having a pretty stupid reaction. “Where’s the keyboard?” I think that was one of the first things I asked out loud when I grabbed my BlackBerry 8300 (RIP). And “what about 3G? ” closely followed.
Of course, looking back, I missed the point Steve Jobs was trying to make in 2007. It wasn’t just another smartphone. It was about reinventing the smartphone and the entire category to move it forward.
Original iPhone: leave the past behind
At the time, Apple was taking a major risk by not including a keyboard, a feature adopted not only by BlackBerry, but also by competing devices like the Moto Q (remember that?), Palm Tree, and Nokia E62. Instead, it went in a whole different direction by adopting a revolutionary multi-touch interface and touchscreen keyboard. Fifteen years later, the iPhone 13 is at the top of our list of the best phones.
It’s easy to forget, but it was the first time people could pinch-to-zoom websites and photos, as well as quickly scroll through long lists with a simple gesture, with this neat inertial scrolling animation. . The original iPhone was all about leaving all other phones behind.
As Steve Jobs said during his presentation: “An iPod, a phone and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone, do you have it?
It was truly three devices in one, and it was the closest thing to the full Internet that we’ve ever seen on one device. I remember when Jobs switched the original iPhone to landscape mode while loading the New York Times in the Safari browser. It wasn’t the mobile web on your phone; it was the full web experience, and you could just double-tap to zoom.
Of course, it would take several iterations of iPhone hardware and software for Apple to really pull this product off and establish itself as the best phone. For example, the original iPhone did not have MMS. You also couldn’t record video on the first iPhone. And the App Store only opened in 2008, and even then there were only 500 apps.
But the original iPhone planted Apple’s flag in a highly competitive space and warned other companies. At the time, Steve Jobs claimed that Apple was “five years ahead of any other mobile phone”. I wouldn’t go that far, but it took a long time for the rivals to field some serious challengers. One of the first was the original Motorola Droid, and it wasn’t released until November 2009.
Samsung didn’t really have a strong enemy for the iPhone until the Samsung Galaxy S3 in 2012, which sported a “massive” (for the time) 4.8-inch screen with HD resolution.
Apple from the iPhone: reinventing but also reiterating
So what about Apple from the original iPhone? Did he follow the example set by Steve Jobs 15 years ago? Has the company reinvented or simply reiterated? In fact, a bit of both.
I would say that Apple Watch CEO Tim Cook unveiled in 2014 the reinvention of the smartwatch category, which is part of the reason why Apple’s latest watch still sits at the top of our best smartwatch list. While others tried to turn watches into miniature phones (see Samsung Galaxy Gear and the original Moto 360), Apple focused on ease of use and ultimately really focused on health.
From the start, Apple Watch focused on your activity and workouts and setting goals. And while the Apple Watch 7 is mostly about a larger screen, the product has received some big additions along the way, including ECG reading from the Apple Watch Series 4 and drop detection.
AirPods are ubiquitous now, but in 2016 they were a big deal because they removed a pain point that none of the other best wireless headphones could. They were ridiculously easy to pair with your iPhone. All you had to do was open the charging case and you would have a prompt on your phone. This is Apple’s advantage that hardware and software work together, which is extremely difficult for other companies to copy.
At the same time, there have also been some pretty significant hiccups in recent years. I’d start with HomePod, which offered great sound quality but not enough value to justify the premium over better smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Nest. Apple’s Siri, which was introduced in 2011, was a huge step ahead of Alexa and Google Assistant and yet never caught up in knowledge, skill, or accuracy.
The MacBook line also lost its way during the 2010s, as Apple failed to recapture the magic of the original MacBook Air line. Steve Jobs slipped out of a manila envelope in 2008. Instead, Apple allowed rivals like the Dell XPS 13 and others to catch up. and released dubious innovations like the hated Butterfly keyboard and Touch Bar.
But then, Apple redeemed itself from 2020 with its Apple silicon in the MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1, reinventing the Mac for a new era with power and battery life that beats the majority of Windows machines. And the 14-inch MacBook Pro has a much better Magic keyboard as well as the ports the pros lacked.
The next iPhone moment? Mixed reality
As we look to 2022, I think Apple is in a position to revolutionize one category yet again, and this time it’s mixed reality. Apple is reportedly launching an Apple AR / VR headset this year, which could give established gamers like Meta and its Oculus Quest 2 some real competition.
Apple’s headset is rumored to be priced at $ 1,000 or more, putting it out of the reach of most buyers at first, but I’m very excited to see how it blends virtual and augmented reality together to deliver. new types of user experiences.
In fact, this device has the potential to provide me with the first real “wow” moment since Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone. We’ve heard that Apple’s headset may ditch physical controllers in favor of tracking hand movements, offer eye detection, and offer M1 chip-like power instead of a smartphone chip. In other words, the headset could outdo everything that came before it by leaving behind what Apple considers legacy features.
And I think that’s the lesson from the original iPhone and Steve Jobs. Take a big leap or don’t even bother.