They grow up so fast.
Today marks the thirteenth anniversary of everyone’s favorite smartphone — the iPhone. It seems like just yesterday that thousands lined up outside stores in multiple cities on June 29, 2007, to be among the first to get their hands on a new device that was touted as a game-changer
The screen’s touch functionality, originally explained by the late Steve Jobs at Macworld, still sits at the heart of what makes iPhone a great, easy to use, device. Likewise, a high-end camera and the ability to sync various media has always been and its core. So has the ability to watch it on a high-end screen. It was never just a phone and that trend has only accelerated in the years since.
Additionally, while Apple still focuses on making the device thinner and lighter, previous rival form factors (Blackberry) have gone by the wayside — the fundamental form of the iPhone has actually remained. All iPhone models are still recognizably related to the first model we saw
Besides the impact the original iPhone had on Apple, the device’s wider impact on society as it has evolved has been profound too. In 2008, Mr. Jobs tasked engineers with making the device be able to record video. As current WSJ columnist Joanna Stern wrote recently:
About 10 years and 10 iPhone models later, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier found herself standing on a sidewalk in Minneapolis, swiping on her purple iPhone 11 lock screen to launch the video camera as fast as possible. She hit the red circle and for the next 10 minutes and 9 seconds she held her phone as steady as she could, capturing George Floyd, a black man crying for his mother as his face was smashed into the pavement by white police officer Derek Chauvin. “I opened my phone and I started recording because I knew if I didn’t, no one would believe me,” Ms. Frazier said in a statement provided by her lawyer, Seth Cobin. A day later, May 26, she opened up the Facebook app, and tapped the video of Mr. Floyd to upload it. The world now knows his name.
A number of journalists who originally covered the device have been reflecting on its launch, including Walt Mossberg, whose review of the product with Katie Boehert was published in The Wall Street Journal two days before it went on sale.
1/ Thirteen years ago today – 6/29/2007 – the 1st iPhone went on sale. It seems like it’s been around even longer. The @WSJ knew it was a big deal and gave major play to my 6/27 review – one of the first few made possible by @Apple – written with my colleague @KatieBoehret. pic.twitter.com/uAslTcf3uW
— Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg) June 29, 2020
“We expected a successful product, we expected millions of people to use it,” Andy Grignon, senior iPhone director, told CNN on the phone’s tenth anniversary in 2017.
“Honestly, I don’t know if I expected a billion people to use it,” he said. “This is how we find jobs, this is how we communicate, this is how we do all these things, we had no idea that it was the product that we were trying to create.”