Creators of the Original iPhone Look Back at its Impact on Company Culture and the App Store

It’s incredible to think that Apple launched the first iPhone 15 years ago. Since that time, the world has evolved in a way that smartphones inspired by the innovative device have become an important part of our everyday lives. Now, the original iPhone creators, alongside current Apple executives, sat down to take a look back at that era of the company.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal‘s Joanna Stern, former staff and current members of Apple’s exec team talked about the original iPhone, the early landscape of the App Store, and more.

A large topic of the conversation was the impact the launch has on company culture. According to the interview, there was such a positive reception to the iPhone within the company.

“The culture changed inside of Apple when we were able to be always-on and always messaging and checking things,” said Tony Fadell, a former Apple senior VP at the time who left Apple in 2008 to start Nest, the thermostat innovator now owned by Alphabet.”

Following the launch of the iPhone came the App Store. Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior VP of worldwide marketing, believed that the App Store may become the home to a modest number of apps. Joswiak believed that 50 would be a great target to get the ball rolling. Two years after the launch of the iPhone, around April 2009, the App Store saw 25,000 apps a week being submitted for approval.

“We thought maybe we would get 50 apps, we’d be feeling pretty good as a nice little start,” Greg Joswiak, Apple senior vice president of world-wide marketing, told me. “We had 500.”

With the launch of the App Store, came lessons about in-app purchases, microtransactions, etc. Phillip Shoemaker, who was in charge of the App Store’s review process, told an anecdote of learning some crucial lessons. Shoemarker told a story of his five-year-old daughter purchasing $450 USD worth of “Smurfberries” in Smurfs’ Village.

His 5-year-old daughter, Mylie, got very into a game called “Smurfs’ Village.” She played it for weeks and weeks. One day, Mr. Shoemaker got a credit-card bill that showed he had paid over $450 to Apple, his own employer. For what? Smurfberries, the kid app’s local currency.

That, combined with customer complaints about hidden in-app purchase costs, pushed the team to create the “Mylie Rule,” which required extra due diligence on apps for children. This led to an iOS update requiring a password to purchase anything within an app.

There are tons of more interesting tidbits to read up on in the interview for those curious. The impact the iPhone has had can not be understated and the global shift in technology had been rapid given the mere 15-year span since its launch.