The iPhone: 10 years old today

Jan 9, 2017 at 12:17

Desktop iphone

Today, January 9th, is the 10th anniversary of Steve Jobs’ unveiling of the first iPhone to the world. It was the first internet-connected smartphone with no keyboard, and with multi-finger touchscreen controls.

Everyone knows the Apple iPhone today. Over 1 billion iPhones have been sold and there are now 2 billion people in the world with smartphones. But when Steve Jobs first unveiled it, here’s what Apple’s competitors had to say about it:

Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of Blackberry (the leading Internet-connected phone at the time) said:

“It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers. But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that's overstating it.”

But from the launch of the iPhone, Blackberry never recovered, losing its smartphone leadership to iOS and Android. Blackberry stopped making phones altogether in September last year.

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia said:

“I don't think that what we have seen so far (from Apple) is something that would any way necessitate us changing our thinking when it comes to openness, our software and business approach.”

Nokia’s dominance in mobile phones faltered after the launch of the iPhone, never recovered, and its entire mobile phone business collapsed and was eventually bought by Microsoft for $7 billion (compared to Apple’s market value, which grew from $12 billion in 2007 to $630 billion today).

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft said:

“There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. I'd prefer to have our software in 60 per cent or 70 per cent or 80 per cent of them, than I would to have 2 per cent or 3 per cent, which is what Apple might get.”

Steve Ballmer laughed openly at the iPhone on TV, calling it "not a very good email machine". At the end of 2016, iPhone had a market share 30 times the market share of the Microsoft Phone.

Steve Jobs got resistance from all sides, including his own team. As iPhone designer Tony Fadell remembers (on whether the iPhone should have a keyboard):

"That fight raged on for around four months. It was a very ugly situation. So Steve put in place a rule: "Until you can agree with us you can’t come back in this room. If you don’t want to be on the team, don’t be on the team.”

Tony (who went on to become a billionaire by designing the smart thermostat, Nest) says “Whenever I create a new product - and I learned this with Steve - if the incumbents laugh at you and the press laugh at you, you go, 'we’ve hit a nerve’."

The end result of the iPhone: It spurred an entire industry to combine phone with music player with camera with Internet device - all as a result of Steve’s vision.

How passionate are you about your product?

How determined are you to push through in the face of all the obstacles and criticism, to fulfil your vision?

Use Steve's actions 10 years ago to be your inspiration today. And imagine your actions today will be similar inspiration for someone else 10 years from now.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi