“Apple is notorious for not looking back. When an anniversary of a big product approaches, the company routinely bounces requests to reminisce. (‘I don’t think about that,’ was Jobs’s response to me, on the 25th anniversary of Macintosh in 2008),” Steven Levy reports for BackChannel. “In this case, Apple made an exception: last week I sat down with its senior vp of world wide marketing, Phil Schiller, who joined the company’s leadership team in April 1997, coincident with Steve Jobs’s return. Schiller had been deeply involved in the iPhone’s development and launch.”

“Schiller pushed back when I suggested that the iPhone’s great moment came when Apple threw open the gates to developers and we learned that for every imaginable activity, as well as some previously unimaginable ones, there was ‘an app for that,” Levy reports. “‘That undervalues how earth-shattering the iPhone was when it first came to market, and we all first got them and fell in love with them,’ he says. ‘iPhone made the idea of a smartphone real. It really was a computer in your pocket. The idea of real internet, real web browser, MultiTouch. There were so many things that are core to what is the smartphone today, that created a product that customers fell in love with, that then also demanded more stuff on them, more apps.'”

“During the gestation period of the iPhone, Apple hosted a spirited internal debate,” Levy reports. “Some advocated that the device be an open system, like the Macintosh, and others advised a more closed system, like the iPod. The argument was put on hold when the engineers realized that even if the open-system adherents won the debate, it would be impossible to implement in time for the launch. Steve Jobs shut down the discussion, Schiller recalls. ‘He said ‘We don’t have to keep debating this because we can’t have [an open system] right now. Maybe we’ll change our mind afterwards, or maybe we won’t, but for now there isn’t one so let’s envision this world where we solve the problem with great built-in apps and a way for developers to make web apps.””

“Can Apple ever top the iPhone — create a product that creates a category that changes the way we live the way this one has in the last ten years?” Levy asks. “Schiller hopes that 50 years people will look back at this point and say, ‘Wow, they didn’t realize how much was to come — in fact, others missed it because they were busy running around looking for other things. Everyone has their opinions at this point, but it could be that we’re only in the first minutes of the first quarter of the game,’ he says. ‘I believe this product is so great that it has many years of innovation ahead.'”

Much more in the full interview here.

MacDailyNews Take: How did we first see Apple’s iPhone the day it was unveiled?

Like this:

The only thing really wrong with Apple’s iPhone is its name

By SteveJack, January 9, 2007

Apple really only botched one thing with the iPhone – its name.

Oh sure, you can argue that the top model’s 8GB of storage is too small, but with 6 months to go that spec (and others) can and probably will change; Apple isn’t even taking pre-orders on the device, yet. So things can change. One thing’s for sure, Apple has frozen a nice chunk of the smartphone market, not to mention some of the iPod market, too.

Back to the naming issue: Apple’s “iPhone” isn’t really a phone at all. It’s really a small touchscreen Mac OS X computer, a Mac nano tablet, if you will. Here’s how misnamed the iPhone is: Some people are complaining that Jobs didn’t spend enough time on the Mac in his keynote! Folks, iPhone is not only a Mac, it’s the most radical new Mac in years! What’s to stop Apple from making a 12-inch model (and larger, and smaller) one of these days (use the headset for the phone, please) and calling it a Mac tablet?

It has an iPod built in, yes, so it can be used solely as a “true video widescreen iPod,” if that’s what you want. And even using it just like that, the price is about right. It also has a smartphone built in, too; except this smartphone’s UI actually makes sense and is usable. Even if you just use it as a smartphone, the price is right, too.

But, the main thing about the “iPhone” is that it’s really a pocket Mac. It has email, SMS, full-featured Web browsing, and much more. But, beyond that, it is a platform that’s just sitting there waiting for Apple to sell software for it. Just imagine games with the large multi-touch display and the built-in accelerometer!

Imagine all of the other software possibilities, too. Given Apple’s history with the iPod (closed to third-party developers), today I’d have to guess that they’ll keep the iPhone under tight control, too. Maybe that will change in the future, maybe not. Still, Apple could do a lot with the platform all by themselves. What about ringtones sold via Apple’s iTunes Store? With Wi-Fi onboard these things could beam data between each other like crazy. The possibilities are endless.

No matter how you look at it, for all that it can do even now, the device is very well priced and should fly off the shelves regardless of its name.

Maybe Apple named it iPhone because of all of the free publicity and buzz that name has already garnered. Maybe they want this trojan horse to slip into the market first under the guise of being the best smartphone available and they’ll exploit its capabilities as a full-fledged platform later. Perhaps it’s easier to explain and sell as a phone first. It probably would have been even easier to just have called it iPod (6G) and listed “iPhone” as a new iPod feature – that’s how they sold video, right?

I also have to wonder what will happen to Safari’s market share after the iPhone starts shipping. All of those iPhones hitting sites with their Safari browsers are going to have an impact if they’re counted properly. What about Mac OS X market share? Each iPhone is technically a Mac, right? If so, Apple will at least double their Mac shipments in the first year alone. Let’s hope IDC and Gartner count them all!

So, yeah, it can be a phone, even the very best smartphone, but it’s so much more and holds so much promise that the name “iPhone” hardly does it justice.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

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