iPhone Celebrates Its Fifth Anniversary

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

It was the ringtone heard round the world.  Five years ago, Apple introduced the iPhone and everything changed … in a hurry. But if my fading memory recalls correctly, it was a long road, as Steve Jobs resisted (at least on the surface) making a phone. More likely, though, he was always going to develop it but didn’t want to announce it until it was perfect.

“Five hundred dollars! That is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers. Right now we’re selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year, Apple is selling zero. In six months, they’ll have the most expensive phone by far ever in the marketplace and let’s see … let’s see how the competition goes.” – Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, 2007

Turn the Wayback Machine to 2007 when the iPhone came out, and you’ll find Steve Jobs was strongly against any third-party applications. He felt that native apps, which he called “Widgets,” a la the Dashboard, on the iOS interface would be enough.  But the pressure built as everyone saw the earth changing possibilities, and those possibilities that are still resonating. But back in `07, Jobs was concerned that policing third-party app developers would be a nightmare.

Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to figure out all the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers.” – Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs Biography.

In fact, there wasn’t even an SDK for the iPhone. Jobs’ initial vision was to create apps through Safari’s SDK and then use them on the iPhone since it had a full version of the web browser installed:

The full Safari engine is inside of iPhone. And so, you can write amazing Web 2.0 and Ajax apps that look exactly and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone. And these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services.  And guess what? There’s no SDK that you need! You’ve got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today.

But it wouldn’t be long before the iPhone outgrew that. Hackers started getting a hold of it and creating apps, which flew into Jobs total control philosophy.  But instead of battling it,  Jobs saw the market potential and pivoted,  embracing the idea of the iTunes App store and it’s signature motto “There’s an app for that.” And a year later, the iPhone SDK was released. As for policing third-party apps, it was simply a matter of Apple approving all apps and all updates. That’s no easy process, but it has allowed Apple to avoid security issues that have plagued the more open source model that the Android Marketplace initially had to deal with.

To date, Apple has sold over 218 million iPhones, with over 650,000 apps in the iTunes store and over 30,000,000,000 downloads.  And Apple’s iPhone business alone has shift Apple from a computer company to an electronics company, and why now they say we live in a “post-PC era.” Sure, that last part didn’t happen until the iPad was introduced, but it all started with the iPhone. (Fun fact: The iPhone started out as a tablet, but they switched it to the phone since the iPod-phone idea didn’t work. And the first name for the iPhone was… the iPad!)

And it’s changed the way we do everything, from communicating with each other, to creating, and even learning. We post on Facebook and Twitter, we watch videos on YouTube, we make dinner reservations thanks to SIRI, and we get around thanks to Maps.  The first five years have been a paradigm shift in the information age, and certainly for the entertainment industry. Who knew back then that the iPhone would end up being a legitimate moviemaking tool, much less a bonafide camera to shoot on? Imagine what the next five years will bring?  Or even the next 12 months? There’s an iPhone 5 coming, likely this fall…

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.

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