10 years on: The iPhone launch is still the greatest in corporate history
“Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.”
And with those words, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world. Since launching the device on 29 June 2007, the company has gone on to sell more than a billion iPhones… and deliver almost a TRILLION dollars of revenue in a decade.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of the iPhone’s launch back in 2007. Not just from the incredible success of the product itself, but the way it has provided a platform for a whole new range of industries. For example, where would Uber’s US$68 billion valuation be without smartphones to run the software?
But it was the keynote that will go down in the annals of corporate history for its combination of daring and excitement – something almost unknown in conservative business circles at the time.
For a lesson in sheer bravado, take in Jobs’ performance from 2007. His confidence is extraordinary, especially given that the test software was so fragile that the slightest wrong turn would have resulted in a system crash. The New York Times Magazine has a great yarn on this:
The iPhone could play a section of a song or a video, but it couldn’t play an entire clip reliably without crashing. It worked fine if you sent an e-mail and then surfed the Web. If you did those things in reverse, however, it might not. Hours of trial and error had helped the iPhone team develop what engineers called “the golden path,” a specific set of tasks, performed in a specific way and order, that made the phone look as if it worked.
Jobs glided through the presentation as it as though the thing was rock solid. It was easy to believe that the Apple CEO held the future in his hands. As they watched, tech fans were excited by the potential of iPhone while nervous company executives from Nokia and Blackberry reached for the hard liquor.
Apple's first crack at a mobile phone was not quite as successful
Fast-forward to current times, and we live in a world that few would have predicted. In 2016 Apple returned $20 billion to developers, and the sheer amount of creativity and innovation across the 2.2 million apps available has brought people together in unprecedented ways.
We share photos, compare bike rides and play games. Pokemon Go made a virtual world available for free, while Minecraft encouraged kids to simply design their own. With chips that provide laptop-like performance, the power of the software in your pocket is unprecedented.
Even business has had significant impact. We’ve discussed time and time again what Apps you should use to increase your efficiency. Who knows what that will look like in coming years as the tech giants push hard on Virtual and Augmented Reality. Will there be any need for an office in five years’ time?