It wouldn’t be the first smartphone. That was the IBM Simon, 1994.
It wouldn’t be widely available. It ran only on AT&T in an era with more than two major mobile carriers.
It wasn’t very fast. No 3G.
Steve Ballmer laughed when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone in January 2007.
But it wasn’t the faster network or the price tag that really set the iPhone ahead of its competitors. Apple’s core philosophy is that software is the key ingredient, and the operating system lying beneath the iPhone’s sleek and sexy touchscreen broke new ground.
But the truly remarkable difference was vintage Jobs: not only did Apple control the hardware, Apple — not a mobile carrier — controlled the operating system.
Jobs even quoted Alan Key at the launch announcement:
People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.
These ads show how dramatically different the iPhone was when compared to Nokia and BlackBerry. Ballmer was right: there was no keyboard. Turns out that wasn’t a dealbreaker, was it?
As of September 2021, Apple had sold 2 billion iPhones. US market share was about 60%.
- iPhone (2007)
- iPhone 3G (2008)
- iPhone 3GS (2009)
- iPhone 4 (2010)
- iPhone 4s (2011)
- iPhone 5 (2012)
- iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c (2013)
- iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (2014)
- iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus (2015)
- iPhone SE (2016)
- iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (2016)
- iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (2017)
- iPhone XR, XS and XS Max (2018)
- iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max (2019)
- iPhone SE (2020)
- iPhone 12 mini, 12, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max (2020)
- iPhone 13 mini, 13, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max (2021)
- iPhone SE (2022)
- iPhone 14, 14 Max, 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max (due in late 2022)
Form v function
It’s not a competition and it’s to either-or: successful products acknowledge both.