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The First iPhone Launched 16 Years Ago Today And Dramatically Changed The Industry That We Know And Love

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Steve Jobs with the OG iPhone

Apple is slated to unveil the iPhone 15 series later this year, but the four models expected to launch in September would not have materialized if it was not for the very first one, which launched 16 years ago. Steve Jobs, who was known for his legendary presentations, said that it was a day that he had been waiting for almost two years, and after a few teasers, he finally revealed the device that many industry experts claim changed the entire smartphone landscape.

Executives like Steve Ballmer, who was Microsoft CEO at the time, laughed at the first iPhone, saying it would never be successful

The year was 2007, and Jobs was attempting to keep the crowd on its feet by talking about three revolutionary products of their class; a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and the third, a breakthrough internet communications device. Hearing that Jobs was going to unveil three new products definitely got the crowd excited, and after a few hints, the Apple co-founder said that these were not three separate devices but a single one, and he is calling it the iPhone.

Keep in mind that competing devices at the time had smaller screens, a physical keyboard, and if those phones did support touch-screen controls, they were too inaccurate to be used by your fingers and required a stylus to operate. The first iPhone completely went against these norms, providing a full-screen experience that only required your fingers for full navigation. During the announcement, Jobs also provided the pricing details of the first iPhone, which were steep.

At that time, it was completely normal for phones to be subsidized, allowing users to pay a small amount to acquire ownership of them and slowly complete the payments with time. The first iPhone and Apple completely bucked that trend, offering the 4GB and 8GB storage models for $499 and $599, respectively, and that too without the option to expand that memory through a microSD card. You can rest assured that after hearing this, a ton of critics had their say on this device, particularly Steve Ballmer, who was Microsoft’s CEO at the time.

Ballmer commented that there was no chance that the iPhone was going to garner any significant market share, stating that at most, Apple would capture between 2-3 percent. Fast forward to 2023, and Ballmer would be regretting a ton of things that he said, including these remarks. On launch day, the iPhone was well-received by customers as there were queues everywhere, but Apple did cut prices later in September 2007, with the 4GB model getting sold for $299 and the 8GB variant slashed from $599 to $399.

Statista reports that Apple sold 1.9 million iPhones in 2007, which is a decent figure for a first-generation product, and with the iPhone 15’s imminent launch, the technology giant has reportedly informed its supply chain about stocking up the four models from July, with the initial shipments target said to reach 89 million units. Looking at this 16-year shipments comparison, Apple has certainly come a long way, and we expect that it will continue to have lofty ambitions.

If you want to check out Jobs’ entire presentation of the first iPhone unveiling, how it works, and its features, check out the video above but be warned, the whole presentation is around 80 minutes, so enjoy.

Written by Omar Sohail

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