What prelaunch coverage of original iPhone can tell us about today’s coverage of Apple’s tablet

“Remember the very first iPhone–the one that sold for $249, had an iconic click wheel, a cool slide-out keypad, and a unique two-battery design–and which ran on Apple’s very own nationwide wireless network? No, not the iPhone that Steve Jobs unveiled at Macworld Expo San Francisco on January 9th, 2007. It didn’t have any of those features. I’m talking about the one that was an ever-changing figment of the collective imagination of bloggers reporters, analysts, and others who wrote endlessly about the iPhone in the months before anyone outside of Apple knew much of anything–including whether or not the phone existed at all,” Harry McCracken writes for Technologizer.

“I’ve been thinking about that era of blissful ignorance lately,” McCracken writes. “Coverage of Apple’s supposedly-upcoming tablet device (allegedly to be known–maybe–as iSlate) is building to a similar crescendo.”

McCracken writes, “I revisited much of the early iPhone scuttlebutt for this article. Herewith, choice bits from a bunch of old stories, with summaries of what they got right and wrong…and then some overall thoughts. The art sprinkled through this story consists of concept iPhones rendered by fans and other interested bystanders prior to the real iPhone’s debut. I’m entertained by them all–but please note that none look even a little bit like the phone that Steve Jobs brandished at Macworld Expo.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]


  1. I like this article more when I saw that McCracken included an honest critique of his own prediction. (Or at least, he fessed up that he was smart enough to avoid getting too specific.)

    Too many writers, of all sorts of political leaning, keep spewing out the same garbage without ever looking back at if they’ve ever been right or not.

  2. Myself and a few others on here were closer than the entire Internet collective. We had the “surfing the net, while emailing and texting, all while on a voice call.” No one got the hardware even remotely close other than a “touch” interface. This time though, there are just to many unknowns, you have the PA Semi buy, all the new map stuff, of course the rumors. Now factor in all the different people in so many industries claiming to know. I won’t even guess. What I will do is try and have my new site up around the first to follow all the action on all of the sites. No promises, but I will try.

  3. Great article, awesome pre-iPhone iPhone mock-ups, with so many click-wheels and sliding keypads…

    I wonder to what extent Apple leaks false information, not only to “journalists” and “analysts”, but also internally to identify and punish leakers. And I bet there’s a team of comedy writers concocting the latest “exclusive” for Cringely et al even as we speak.

  4. I remember that ‘iPhone’ as a _name_ was not hailed as much of something to look forward to, back in the day. Let’s face it, it ain’t that inspired. But it is obvious, and it did turn out to be the name after all. iSlate is also obvious, also not too popular….

  5. Great article. Makes you realize that all the rumors and “insights” about Apple’s next product are bullshit.

    We simply will not know what Apple is releasing until Steve Jobs steps on stage and shows us.

  6. We simply DO know about Apple’s Chinese orders of 7 and 10 inch touch screens – we DO know the name, “iSlate”, as well, though that name could actually be the name for the OS or also software that runs on the touch-screen Apple devices…

    But more is always unknown than known, that’s very true today as it was when the iPhone was revealed…

  7. The one thing that both the predictions and mock ups have in common is using predominantly “in-the-box” thinking. For example, the speculative designs all look like what phones looked like 4 yrs ago. The analysis all centers on how things had happened and then extrapolating.

    Technologies or gadgets that are breakthroughs or define a market cannot usually be predicted this way. Just as no one was able to get the design of the iPhone right because they were too fixated on what phones were, I suspect analysts are saying that the tablet will be a niche market because of how things are now. I admit that this was my original take, but then I realized that it is not just the type of device, but how well it is realized by the manufacturer. Apple has shown with the iPod and iPhone that they know how to deliver not just a product that is appealing to consumers in function, but also in the interface and ease of use. The iPhone was not even close to being the first phone with a web browser, but it is the most used for that function.

    The inside the box thinking also extends to the business side. For example, the fact that iPod flourished in a market with little competition initially does not imply that it could not have flourished with stiff competition, but at least one of the analysts uses that reasoning.

    In this case, it would seem that the iPod Touch and iPhone are the roadmap for the tablet. While I see the similarity, the real trick for the tablet is whether it is just a ‘tweener or finds a functional ground inbetween laptops and smartphones that justify its existence. That is a difficult trick, but Apple has shown that they are capable. Will they deliver? We’ll see.

    However, I think how they define it’s purpose that resonates with consumers is just as important as the size and pricepoint.

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