THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Backblaze

Astonishingly Easy And Unlimited Cloud Backup


10 Years Ago, the iPhone Redefined Mobile Computing

Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPhone to the world 10 years ago was captivating:

today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products…. The first one: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second: is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.

So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.

In retrospect, it’s hard to believe just how cobbled together and buggy that demo iPhone was:

Only about a hundred iPhones even existed, all of them of varying quality. Some had noticeable gaps between the screen and the plastic edge; others had scuff marks on the screen. And the software that ran the phone was full of bugs.

Despite the unfinished state of the iPhone, the onstage demonstrations at Macworld Expo went smoothly. Jobs told the cheering crowd that the iPhone would be available in six months’ time in 4 and 8 GB models for $499 and $599 on a sole US carrier, Cingular. Jobs also revealed something that would have a much bigger impact on the iPhone’s long-term success: its operating system was built on a foundation of Mac OS X.

Almost immediately, OS X developers began clamoring for a way to create apps for the iPhone. At WWDC in June 2007, less than three weeks before the iPhone’s launch, Steve Jobs announced what he called a ‘very sweet solution’ – developers could build web apps for the iPhone. The idea wasn’t well-received. Developers took matters into their own hands: a vibrant jailbreaking community emerged that gave rise to native apps like Twitterrific.

Just four months later, an official iPhone SDK was announced by Steve Jobs. There weren’t many details, but in March 2008 the iPhone SDK was released. Developers dug in and built hundreds of apps, a comically small number by today’s standards. When the App Store opened its doors that October with 500 apps, an entirely new revolution was sparked – an app economy that helped drive iPhone sales to even greater heights. The iPhone and App Store have been inextricably linked ever since.

In the ensuing years, the iPhone and the App Store ecosystem surrounding it have grown larger than anyone could have imagined. Today, there are over 2.2 million apps in the App Store, which generated over $20 billion in 2016. With so many apps, it’s hard to find what will suit your needs, which is why MacStories has reviewed thousands of apps over the years.

As we think about what might be next for the iPhone, it’s interesting to look back at where it all started, and consider just how much the iPhone has evolved. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of its introduction, we’ve collected some of our favorite MacStories articles about the iPhone:

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, it was clear that it was different. Just how different only came into focus with the passage of time. The iPhone fundamentally altered computing for millions of people. That sort of foundational shift doesn’t come along very often. What’s exciting is the inescapable feeling that we are still in the early days of the sea change sparked by the iPhone and there is still room for fresh surprises.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.