Nine Ways the Apple iPhone Redefined the Smartphone in 2007

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-02-14 Print this article Print

The Apple iPhone wasn't the first smartphone, wasn't the first device with a touch screen and wasn't the first to offer access to the Internet, email, music, games or apps. But it offered these things and others in a drastically, fantastically different way than had ever been done before. So much so that Jan. 9, 2007—the day Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld and announced that Apple was about to "reinvent the phone"—is a dividing line in the history of mobile phones, separating all that led up to the iPhone from all that came after. Apple changed users' expectations about products, from how quickly one should be able to figure out the basics to the pleasure of opening a well-designed box. Apple changed what people did with their phones, transforming a business tool into a downtime diversion. Users' devotion to the iPhone was so great that they broke through the walls BlackBerry had built around the enterprise market—a once unimaginable feat—and Apple even changed pricing in the industry, wrestling into place what became a standard business model for more than half a decade. In this eWEEK at 30 piece, we look back at how the iPhone redefined the smartphone.

  • Nine Ways the Apple iPhone Redefined the Smartphone in 2007

    By Michelle Maisto
    Nine Ways the Apple iPhone Redefined the Smartphone in 2007
  • iPhone as Three-in-One Device

    Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld 2007 and announced that Apple would be introducing three products: a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and an Internet communications device. He repeated the list several times, driving home a point, before laughing and telling the audience, "Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device."
    iPhone as Three-in-One Device
  • Meet Multitouch

    The iPhone dismissed two popular trends of the time, a dedicated keyboard and a stylus, in favor of a 3.5-inch sheet of glass and a single button. "We're going to get rid of all these buttons," Jobs said, showing a picture of a Palm Treo. All the popular smartphones of the day—the BlackBerry Pearl, the Nokia E62, the Moto Q, the Samsung BlackJack—had keyboards that dominated 30 to 60 percent of their front real estate.
    Meet Multitouch
  • Who Wants a Stylus?

    "Now, how are we going to communicate, because we don't want to carry around a mouse, right?" asked Jobs, going about the business of introducing the world to a touchable touch screen. "Who wants a stylus? You have to get 'em, and put 'em away and you lose 'em—yuk! … We're going to use our fingers."
    Who Wants a Stylus?
  • Back to the Drawing Board

    The day Jobs introduced the first iPhone, Google executives and engineers, some of whom had been working "sixty- to eighty-hour weeks for fifteen months," Fred Vogelstein wrote in his book Dogfight, scrapped the phone, dubbed "Sooner," that they'd been working on. While in many ways it was superior to the iPhone, the iPhone made it clear that the keyboard-equipped Sooner was also "ugly." A year later, Google introduced the T-Mobile G1, which managed to keep the keyboard while incorporating a large touch screen.
    Back to the Drawing Board
  • 'Twice as Fast at Half the Price'

    In June 2008, Apple introduced the iPhone 3G. While the iPhone was $599 with a contract, the iPhone 3G was $199 with a two-year contract, which was a new pricing model for AT&T. "Negotiating with third parties was one of [Jobs'] great, great strengths," TBR analyst Ezra Gottheil told eWEEK. "It's basically how he made the iPod win, and it's how he made the iPhone win."
    'Twice as Fast at Half the Price'
  • The App Store

    While the iPhone relied on interacting with Web-based apps, the iPhone 3G arrived with the introduction of the App Store. "The App Store really cemented Apple's advantage in a way that hasn't completely been overcome," said Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson.
    The App Store
  • A Complete Experience

    Apple's devices were beautiful, its stores were beautiful and—unlike the traditional retail experience—no attention to detail was spared anywhere. Even the packaging "was something of an innovative step," said TBR analyst Jack Narcotta. "Opening the box, as corny as it sounds, was like being a kid on Christmas morning."
    A Complete Experience
  • Tectonic Shift

    Writing in MarketWatch in September 2008, tech veteran John C. Dvorak took wide-eyed notice of Apple ads that showed people how to download an app from the app store. "No ad for a mobile phone has ever veered in this direction," he wrote, wondering whether most people realized the "tectonic and fundamental shift taking place."
    Tectonic Shift
  • Building on a Vision

    Early smartphones came with a manual that users read and often referred to. What Apple accomplished with the iPhone—the simplification of the user experience—it started with the Macintosh and furthered with the iPod. Jobs' position, his "passion," says TBR's Gottheil, "was that technology should be the servant, not the master."
    Building on a Vision
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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