Like many others in the Apple community, I vividly remember where I was when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, 10 years ago today. Back then, I was an a Mac Genius in one of the UK Apple Stores (Trafford Centre). A group of us were sat in a crowded break room, huddled around the screen of a 17″ iMac as we watched the event, and history, unfold.
As Steve introduces the three revolutionary products, this small room of ten or so people felt like a 40,000 seat stadium at maximum occupancy.
The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls.
The second is a revolutionary mobile phone.
And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.
Bewildered clapping and an audible confusion
Like many people in the audience, we weren’t entirely sure what we were applauding with an “Internet communications device”, and remembering the confused reaction from the room still makes me laugh. But despite how vague it sounded, this aspect of the iPhone was to be the most fundamentally important one for the vast majority of us. The iPhone was the first mobile device that was truly built with the Internet in mind. By comparison, mobile phones at the time were primarily a phone, with web browsing and email treated almost as an afterthought.
Watching the tech demos of the iPhone in action felt like looking into the future, as though someone had traveled back in time to show us what people in the future would be using. The demo of Safari, in particular, blew me away and the thought that I could browse the real web with a mobile phone was mind-blowing. It was actually difficult to believe that this was not only a real device, but it was one people would be able to buy relatively soon.
The launch of the iPhone is one of the defining moments in technology. Happy 10th birthday, iPhone, and I look forward to many happy returns.