On January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone.
In what would begin a dramatic technological and cultural shift, Jobs took to the stage at Macworld Expo in San Francisco with a major announcement. He told the audience that “today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” He was absolutely right. The iPhone inspired a whole new generation of devices and connectivity.
But it all could have gone horribly wrong. While the presentation went off without a hitch, CNET contributor Dan Farber said that the technology had yet to be fully functional, and “Jobs was walking a tightrope on stage” even after days of rehearsals.
Taking a gamble
Farber said that the iPhone was not scheduled to begin shipments until June 29 of that year. This left Jobs and Apple with buggy, crash-prone prototypes to work with at Macworld. The devices had to be set up specifically to prevent errors.
“It's hard to overstate the gamble Jobs took when he decided to unveil the iPhone back in January 2007,” said Fred Vogelstein, author of “Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution.” “Not only was he introducing a new kind of phone – something Apple had never made before – he was doing so with a prototype that barely worked.”
Beating the odds
But Jobs pulled it off, presenting a device that would quickly change the face of communication. Jobs said during his speech that Apple was going to be unveiling three “revolutionary products” – a touchscreen iPod, a mobile phone, and an Internet communications device. But implied that they would not exist exclusively.
“These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone,” Jobs said to the audience. “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.”
When it was released later that year, Farber said that almost 1.4 million iPhones were sold during the first three months of sales. By the end of September 2013, Apple had sold over 150 million iPhones the world over, netting over $90 billion worth of sales.
What almost wasn't
Before the iPhone had even been realized, Apple had been exploring the possibilities of a different touchscreen device. According to MacRumors contributor Eric Slivka, the iPad almost happened first. Known then as the “Safari Pad,” Jobs and others within the company decided that the multi-touch interface would be much more revolutionary if applied to cellphones. The iPad was eventually released in 2010.