Thursday marked the 10th anniversary of Apple’s iPhone. The launch, not the announcement. What happened with iPhone is little short of remarkable and for a large segment of the technology world, iPhone’s success seemed to be a surprise.
Customers were not surprised. They loved the iPhone and evangelized accordingly. Over the first few years iPhone grew in popularity to the point where customers waited in line hundreds deep to get the latest version. Yet, those early naysayers refused to buckle under the obvious. The iPhone was a hit and remains a hit.
Back in 2007 an iPhone sold for $600. Today, the iPhone SE is entry level and starts at $399. The high end iPhone 7 Plus starts at $769, iPhone 7 at $649, and last year’s iPhone 6s is $549, so it’s safe to say Apple has managed to keep the iPhone’s price tag about the same as the original.
What if you’d devoted an additional $600 to Apple’s stock back in 2007? AAPL has gone up more than 700-percent since then, so the $600 investment would be more than $5,000, and a $100 investment nearly $850. Clearly, Apple did something right. Customers knew it. App developers knew it. Google’s Android OS development team knew it.
Who did not know it?
Ed Colligan, Palm’s CEO in 2006:
We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened. Apple and Google walked in and took over the entire smartphone industry. Microsoft’s mobile device efforts are a footnote in tech history.
Tech writer John C. Dvorak in 2007:
iPhone which doesn’t look, I mean to me, I’m looking at this thing and I think it’s kind of trending against, you know, what’s really going, what people are really liking on, in these phones nowadays, which are those little keypads. I mean, the Blackjack from Samsung, the Blackberry, obviously, you know kind of pushes this thing, the Palm… but I think Apple can do wrong and I think this is it.
You see where this is going, right?
It wasn’t just the misguided technology writers. Stock market and business analysts completely missed the touchscreen revolution that came with the iPhone.
Matt Lynn in Bloomberg, early 2007:
The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. In terms of its impact on the industry, the iPhone is less relevant… Apple is unlikely to make much of an impact on this market… Apple will sell a few to its fans, but the iPhone won’t make a long-term mark on the industry.
See the commonality among the skeptical themes? iPhone won’t be a hit. But also notice the date of each quote? Those were written before the iPhone was actually available to be used. What happened a year later, after a few million iPhones had been sold and demand was growing?
Microsoft’s Scott Rockfeld in 2008:
We are not at all worried. We think we’ve got the one mobile platform you’ll use for the rest of your life. [Apple] are not going to catch up.
It never was an issue of Apple catching up. Microsoft’s Windows Phone or whatever it was called back then was already behind the curve. While Apple was on the way to making a metric crap ton of money from the iPhone, Microsoft’s mobile device hopes were on the skids.
Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek in 2008:
Microsoft, with Windows Mobile/ActiveSync, Nokia with Intellisync, and Motorola with Good Technology have all fared poorly in the enterprise. We have no reason to expect otherwise from Apple
Why not? Customers loved the iPhone. Android was not a consideration. BlackBerry was king. Today, who owns the enterprise? Apple’s iPhone.
The point is obvious. Those in the know didn’t really know the market at all. They were not soothsayers of the future. They couldn’t see what Apple’s customer could see. We see this say kind of ignorance everywhere these days; in education, in politics, in business. Those in the know, should know, but they don’t know.