The original iPhone went on sale five years ago this Friday.In the years since, Apple has shipped some 250 million iPhones worldwide, disrupted several major companies and generally change the tech world as we know it.
For all the success the iPhone has had though, it did have a bit of rocky start. We’ve taken a look back at the early days of the iPhone, from conception to launch, based on excerpts from several books and articles.
It has been five years since the iPhone went on sale, but the idea behind the product had been kicking around Apple for about five years before that.
Steve Jobs first started thinking about developing a phone in 2002, in part because he knew that mobile products would get more and more features and eventually make the iPod obsolete, according to a 2008 article from Wired.
It wasn't until 2005, however, that the company took its first big step towards putting out a phone...
Jobs originally reached out to Motorola to develop a phone, based on the company's success with the Razr. The result of that was the Motorola ROKR, which Jobs unveiled in September, 2005. But according to the Wired article, Jobs knew it was a bad product well before that. In February of that year, Jobs reached out to Cingular (not yet acquired by AT&T) at a top secret meeting and pitched them on a phone that Apple would build itself.
Steve Jobs apparently thought long and hard about the possibility of releasing a phone without a major carrier. According to wireless guru John Stanton who talked with him about it, Jobs was looking for ways to 'create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum.' Jobs gave up the idea around 2007 and brokered a multi-year exclusivity contract with AT&T instead.
Before Apple settled on the name iPhone, the company considered other names for the device including one familiar choice: iPad. That's according to Insanely Simple, a book published this month by Ken Segall, who worked with Steve Jobs for years producing advertisements for the company.
Tony Fadell, who oversaw Apple's iPhone and iPod hardware development, revealed in an interview with The Verge earlier this year that Apple seriously considered putting a physical keyboard on the original iPhone. Apple didn't end up going this route, but according to Fadell, it was a 'heated topic.'
The original iPhone launched without an App Store because Jobs didn't want to deal with third party developers.
The App Store has been a huge success for Apple, but the original phone launched without it, not because Apple hadn't thought of it, but because Jobs just didn't like the idea.
Despite pressure from other Apple executives, Jobs 'didn't want outsiders to create applications for the iPhone that could mess it up, infect it with viruses or pollute its integrity,' according to Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs. Once the phone was released, however, Jobs was more willing to have a discussion about how to do it right.
CNET wrote that missing features from the device, most notably the lack of 3G, 'leaves users wanting more.' David Pogue at the New York Times went event further and described the device as 'revolutionary, but flawed,' noting that the original iPhone 'lacks features found on even the most basic phones.'
Apple killed off the 4 GB version of the iPhone after just three months on the market and slashed the price.
Apple initially launched a 4 GB version of the original iPhone for $499 and an 8 GB version for $599, but this pricing strategy clearly wasn't as effective as the company had hoped. Apple ended up killing the 4 GB version of the iPhone less than three months after it launched. At the same time, the company slashed the price of the 8 GB version by $200.
The iPhone didn't take off right away. It took Apple 74 days to sell the first million iPhones and the company ended up selling a little under 1.4 million phones in 2007 overall. That's nothing to sneeze at, but it's also nothing compared to the 35 million iPhones Apple sold in the second quarter of 2012. However, the iPhone sales did start to accelerate once the company lowered the price.