The iPhone has become one of the most admired consumer electronics devices on the planet and its DNA can still be traced back to this original device which Steve Jobs pulled out of his pocket on stage in San Francisco in January 2007.
This was not Apple’s first foray into mobile phones. In September 2005 it announced the ROKR E1
in collaboration with Motorola and US carrier Cingular. This was positioned as “the world’s first mobile phone with iTunes”.
This project is widely regarded as having been a learning experience for Steve Jobs and the Apple team, helping them understand the mobile phone market, the key distribution channels and more. It also focused their minds on everything they disliked about mobile phones and wanted to fix with an Apple product.
In the build-up to the unveiling of the first iPhone (see video below), Jobs teased the audience by saying he was going to launch three products: “an iPod, a Phone and an Internet Communicator” – in fact he was referring to the three signature experiences on the first iPhone, which he described as having software that was “five years ahead of any other phone”.
Although the first iPhone had a two-megapixel camera, the development team was so stretched on other areas of the phone that it was not really a priority. It was only on later iterations of the iPhone when Apple doubled down on camera performance.
The first iPhone only had sixteen apps, all of which were provided by Apple, albeit that two of them were made in collaboration with Google. The anchor apps on the home screen were: Phone (Steve Jobs described making phone calls as "the killer app" on the first iPhone), Mail, Safari and iPod. The other apps were Text, Calendar, Photos, Camera,YouTube, Stocks, Google Maps, Weather, Clock, Calculator, Notes and Settings.
However, throughout its first year, a growing number of developers figured out how to “jailbreak” the phone and add third-party apps. It was not until a year later, with the unveiling of the iPhone 3G
, that Apple introduced the App Store and officially offered apps on the iPhone.
The iPhone started shipping exclusively with US carrier AT&T on 29 June 2007. It supported 2.5G GPRS / EDGE network capabilities and cost $499 for the 4GB model and $599 for the 8GB model.
Expecting users to pay such a high up-front cost for the phone was considered unusual at the time and shocked the industry that was used to a subsided model for phones sold with a contract. In September, Apple seemed to acknowledge this and dropped the price by $200, eventually placating early iPhone buyers with a $100 store credit.
The iPhone has gone on to become not only the most successful mobile phone franchise, but arguably the most successful consumer electronics products of all time, and certainly the most profitable.