Apple’s Phil Schiller Gives Interview on the iPhone’s Past, Present and Future

As the iPhone celebrates ten years of existence in 2017, Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing head, sat down for an interview with tech journalist Steven Levy. The broad-ranging interview touches on the smartphone’s successes and failures, and its past, present, and future as the company’s flagship device.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new iPhone during his keynote address at MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new iPhone during his keynote address at MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

The interview begins on the original iPhone’s lack of support for third-party applications. According to Schiller, the argument inside Apple was whether the smartphone would be an open platform like the Mac, or a closed device like the iPod. Then-CEO Steve Jobs eventually shut the idea down, releasing the device as closed for the first year.

Steve Jobs shut down the discussion, Schiller recalls. “He said ‘We don’t have to keep debating this because we can’t have [an open system] right now. Maybe we’ll change our mind afterwards, or maybe we won’t, but for now there isn’t one so let’s envision this world where we solve the problem with great built-in apps and a way for developers to make web apps.”

The interview then goes on to state that one of the greatest moments in the device’s history was the launch of the App Store, allowing third-party developers to create all sorts of content. There was an incredible amount of content, and for anything a user could want, there was “an app for that.”

“That undervalues how earth-shattering the iPhone was when it first came to market, and we all first got them and fell in love with them,” he says. “iPhone made the idea of a smartphone real. It really was a computer in your pocket. The idea of real internet, real web browser, Multi-Touch. There were so many things that are core to what is the smartphone today, that created a product that customers fell in love with, that then also demanded more stuff on them, more apps.”

One of the main concerns from consumers regarding the new iPhones is that they are not improving as drastically as they used to; now the improvement are only incremental. This notion Schiller argues against:

“I actually think the leaps in the later versions are as big and sometimes even bigger now,” he says. “I think our expectations are changing more, not the leaps in the products. If you look through every version—from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G to the 4 to the 4S, you see great changes all throughout. You see screen size change from three and a half inch to four inch to four point seven and five point five. You see cameras going through incredible change, from the first camera that couldn’t shoot video, to then having both a front and a backside camera, to now three cameras with the stuff we’re doing, and with live photos and 4K video.”

In a recent press release, Schiller stated that while it has already been ten years, Apple is “just getting started” with the iPhone. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “the best is yet to come.” Schiller comments that in the future, he hopes people realize that this is indeed the case:

Schiller hopes that 50 years people will look back at this point and say, “Wow, they didn’t realize how much was to come?—?in fact, others missed it because they were busy running around looking for other things. Everyone has their opinions at this point, but it could be that we’re only in the first minutes of the first quarter of the game,” he says. “I believe this product is so great that it has many years of innovation ahead.”

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