Today is the iPhone’s 5th birthday.

Steve Jobs introduces iPhone video clip

screenshot: Apple
Happy birthday to a revolution.

It’s hard to believe now, but some pundits in 2006/2007 predicted failure for Apple’s rumored new phone. They felt that Apple should stick to making computers and iPods, not phones. (Of course, the iPhone is a computer.) The pundits argued that the smartphone market was already overcrowded: the Palm Treo, RIM Blackberry, and Nokia E61 controlled the market, leaving no room for Apple.

And then exactly five years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone:

“Today, we are introducing three revolutionary products. The first is a wide-screen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary new mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.” <insert patter here>

“Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone!”

The pundits were wrong, of course. A major reason is that Apple made it easy for third-party developers to create and distribute iPhone applications. The hardware was very nice, but I think it was the software — the friendly user interface and the proliferation of useful apps — that powered the iPhone’s runaway success.

In five years, neither RIM nor Palm responded with a viable competitor, and they’re now footnotes. Microsoft responded with an operating system that nobody liked. Only Google and partners provided viable competition.

Well done, Steve!

One indicator of success is that the wireless carriers are reporting less voice traffic per subscriber, and more data traffic. They’re responding by making more attractive voice offers and capping their data plans.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

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