It seems hard to believe that it’s been eight years since the original iPhone was first announced. At the time many of us were using smartphones like the Samsung Blackjack, and if you were a true diehard, BlackBerry smartphones. And for those of us that didn’t have smartphones, there were still plenty of bar- and flip-phones out there to choose from.
But Apple swooped in with its highly anticipated iPhone on January 9, 2007 at MacWorld 2007, right smack dab in the middle of CES 2007. Then Apple CEO Steve Jobs wanted to steel the thunder from the show that was taking place in Las Vegas, and he definitely got his wish.
Just before Jobs revealed the iPhone, he remarked how Apple had created a "widescreen iPod with touch controls”, a "revolutionary mobile phone”, and a "breakthrough Internet communication device.” What Jobs unveiled was the iPhone, which did away with the hardware QWERTY keyboard in favor a 3.5” touch screen with multi-touch support. Jobs introduced us to such terms as “pinch to zoom” and “visual voicemail” and declared that the touch screen would make physical keyboards on smartphones obsolete (he would largely be proven correct).
The iPhone managed to include an easy to use Safari Internet browser, email support, vastly improved access to media content, and innovative ways to interact with images. It’s hard to imagine it now, but the first generation iPhone was powered by a 412MHz ARM processor (complete with 128MB RAM), featured a large [at the time] 3.5” 480x320 display, and was initially only available in 4GB or 8GB capacities. Notable downsides to the device included its lack of 3G connectivity (it only supported Edge) and the fact that the 4GB and 8GB iPhones cost $499 and $599 respectively with a new 2-year contract on AT&T.
The iPhone arguably kicked off the smartphone arms race that now has turned into “Google Android versus everyone else” in worldwide sales. Companies that were at the forefront of smartphone innovation when the iPhone first hit the market — namely BlackBerry and Microsoft — find themselves fighting for table scraps in today’s smartphone market.
Who knows what the smartphone market will look like in the next 8 years, but for now, we can at least look back and witness a pivotal moment in the history of smartphones: