Apple’s iPhone Was Unveiled Five Years Ago, Today

BY Rounak Jain

Published 9 Jan 2012

“This is a day, I’ve been looking forward to for two and a half years. Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.”

That was Steve Jobs’ build-up to his Macworld keynote, where he would go on to introduce the iPhone.

The most iconic part of the keynote, at least according to us, was his prelude to the phone Apple was going to reveal:

“Today we’re introducing three revolutionary products. The first one, is a wide screen iPod with touch controls. The second, is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third, is a breakthrough internet communications device.”

“An iPod, a phone and an internet communicator. An iPod, a phone …. Are you getting it?”

“These are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”

Jobs continued, talking about how flawed, and difficult to use, smartphones were back then. The slide from his keynote that described this, went on to become a representation of the pre “modern smartphone” era, where phones came with small screens and hardware keyboards.

smartphones before the iPhone

Since then, the iPhone has, no hyperbole intended, revolutionized the way modern mobile devices look and function.

The iPhone introductory keynote is considered not just Jobs’ best performance, but also, one of the best product launches ever. You could literally see people in the audience stand up and pump their fists.

Of course, with Steve’s great presentation skills, Apple also had an amazing product. So amazing, in fact, that RIM, in a meeting a day after the launch, thought that Apple was lying and that it wasn’t possible to run such a device without an “insanely power hungry processor.”

Palm had interesting things to say as well:

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

This was Palm’s then CEO Ed Colligan, talking to the NYT in 2006, before the iPhone was unveiled, and when the hype about the Apple-phone was at its peak. (Fascinating commentary on this by John Gruber over at Daring Fireball.)

So what is the scenario five years after the launch of the iPhone?

RIM is in trouble. Palm, on the verge of bankruptcy, sold to HP, which subsequently dumped Palm’s main product WebOS in the open-source territory. Microsoft, once a leader in the smartphone space, had to start from scratch with Windows Phone. Nokia abandoned its in-house Symbian OS in favor of Windows Phone.

The leaders in the smartphone space right now, Google and Apple, weren’t even in this business five years ago.

Clearly a lot has changed.

Interesting tidbit: During the keynote, when Steve Jobs made the first public phone call with an iPhone to Jonny Ive, he was using the Motorola Razr (as was Phil Schiller).

And with that we’ll leave you to watch the introduction of Apple’s iPhone on this day, 5 years back: