7 Things About Apple’s iPhone Launch 7 Years Ago

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This is a rare video segment, that I’m not sure has been released anywhere. It’s a chunk of b-roll footage of the iPhone’s features being demonstrated that was used in various commercials and demo spots — and during the keynote in 2007. It gives a great overview of what the iPhone looked like at launch.

“iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO at the time of the iPhone’s announcement in January. “We are all born with the ultimate pointing device—our fingers—and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse.”

And this footage showed off an interface unlike anything anyone had seen at this point.

Note: because this is b-roll, there is no sound for most of it.

Gallery Featured Image Credit: Anuj Biyani

The iPhone first went on sale in the US on June 29, 2007 at 6:00 PM.

Here’s the crush of media and line-waiters at Apple’s 5th Avenue flagship store on launch day. This is well before the ennui related to Apple device lines set in. Pretty much everyone was enthusiastic about getting their hands on the iPhone — and lines were the only way to do it as you couldn’t get them by mail for weeks.

A view from inside an Apple store on launch day. As crazy as this looks, it was actually even moreso. Now, we treat it as par for the course that people will line up for a new iPhone, and other companies try to duplicate the headline-grabbing line phenomenon with their launches.

But, before the iPhone, waiting in line overnight for a new gadget was as rare as waiting in line overnight for a movie was before Star Wars Episode I in 1999.

As of April 23, 2014, Apple has sold over 515.62M iPhones, making it the most successful smartphone ever.

On launch day people mobbed Apple Stores and AT&T stores — which was the only carrier to have the iPhone — wiping out stock. iPhone users would grow to detest AT&T (then called Cingular), whose service wasn’t up to the task of keeping up with their heavy web browsing habits. Fun fact: Verizon was originally offered a deal to carry the iPhone but turned it down, which allowed AT&T to ride enormous demand for the device to overtake the bigger carrier.

Image: John Pastor

The original iPhone press release holds some gems that stand out now. Yahoo! Mail was the preferred partner, as the world’s largest email service.

Now, the iPhone recommends Apple’s own iCloud mail, with Gmail the first among the third-party choices.

The 3.5″ display was considered huge at the time, which is funny because this essentially means Apple was a pioneer in the ‘huge screen phone’ market. A market that it is rumored to re-enter this year with screens over the current 4″ max.

The iPhone’s 2MP camera may seem terrible by today’s standards, but the way the software supported it was unheard of — today, Apple says more pictures are taken with the iPhone than any other camera in the world. And Flickr’s stats back that up. The iPhone sweeps the top 4 slots on its charts.

Image Credit: John Pastor

Remember, all of the phones we had been using had physical controls of some kind, even if the screen was touch-based. This is the jump that most people were making at the time. A color screen? Maybe. Touch? No way.

Today, touch is considered absolutely integral to any smartphone.

Image Credit: Geoff Stearns

The most important launch for the iPhone, though, wasn’t in 2007, it was several months later in early 2008. Apple’s strength has always been in integrating hardware and software. And, despite an early reluctance to open up the precious iPhone to third-party developers, Jobs relented and they announced the iPhone software SDK in March of 2008. That SDK would allow developers to build apps — which would be the key to the iPhone’s long-term success. Today, there are over 1.2M apps on the App Store and over 800 apps are downloaded every second.

That, and not the revolutionary hardware, would be the success that cemented Apple’s place in the next era of portable computing.