Today is Not the 10th Anniversary of the iPhone

Posted on January 9, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in iOS with 36 Comments

Today is Not the 10th Anniversary of the iPhone

Ten years ago today, Steve Jobs delivered his greatest speech ever. And in announcing the iPhone, he and Apple forever changed personal technology.

Oddly, I’m seeing a number of stories claiming that today is the “10th anniversary of the iPhone.” That date is actually June 29, as Apple released the iPhone on this day in 2007.

OK, that’s semantics. And regardless of which date you choose to commemorate—I suspect many of those same sites will later remind us that June 29 is also the 10th anniversary of the iPhone—the impact of this announcement cannot be overstated.

Indeed, over the past year, I’ve repeatedly described the iPhone as the asteroid that destroyed the Windows dinosaur. Yes, that’s very dramatic, and purposefully so. And, yes, one could argue, pedantically, that the cataclysmic event that set up human beings as the dominant species on the planet happened quickly, while Windows, and the PCs it runs on, will be with us for a long time.

Fair enough. But the change ushered in by the iPhone cannot be denied. I saw it, you saw, virtually everyone saw it, though representatives from mobile companies like Motorola, Nokia, Palm, RIM (Blackberry), and others were either lying publicly to save face or just living in denial for the first year or two. But they all failed in responding to the iPhone threat, and now they’re either gone or worthless. (Microsoft failed too, of course, though as I’ve explained, Steve Ballmer was Right About the iPhone back in 2007.)

The first iPhone and the phone it replaced for me, the Moto Q.

To put the iPhone in perspective, consider Apple’s next big new product launch, in 2010, for the iPad. At that time, I accurately described the iPad as nothing more than a giant iPod touch, and I boldly (and perhaps childishly, though I have my reasons) declared that anyone who thought the iPad was The Next Big Thing was “a tool.”

Apple actually mocked me in one of their keynotes for this declaration. But, surprise: For once, I was right. And as I write this in early 2017, the iPad has suffered from 2.5 years of straight sales declines, with ongoing revisions like iPad mini and iPad Pro doing nothing to reverse this downfall. Today, the iPad is a solid business, sure, and the dominant if fading tablet. But tablets never did surpass PCs, and in the most recent quarter, iPad was a smaller business than the Mac by revenues, and represented just one-sixth the revenues, and one-fifth the unit sales, of iPhone. In other words, it is not The Next Big Thing. Sorry, Tim. And hey, thanks for calling me out for being right.

More recent iPhones I've owned

I didn’t have that reaction to the iPhone. In fact, I wrote so much about the iPhone, and, ultimately, about its inability to integrate with Microsoft’s Exchange/EAS infrastructure for businesses, that year that people started asking me if I was going to rename my site—the SuperSite for Windows, at the time—to the SuperSite for iPhone. Point being, I may not have been wowed by iPad—or subsequent products like Apple Watch, or the recent MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops—but I was absolutely wowed by iPhone.

And rightfully so. Despite the many limitations of that first device, the iPhone in 2007 represented a peek at a future we are all now living in, even if we use competing devices like those based on Android. (Which, sorry Apple, most of us are.)

And that presentation was masterful. I’ve watched it again and again, and of course the description of the event and its build-up in the official Steve Jobs biography is simply amazing too.

So, here’s to Apple for showing us the way. It wouldn’t be ready for six more months, but the revolution started ten years ago today when Steve Jobs bounded up on the Moscone Center stage at Macworld 2007 in San Francisco. It’s an event that historians will be studying for years to come. And it deserves to be remembered.


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