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Steve Jobs: The iPhone Introduction (2007)

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Steve Jobs: The iPhone Introduction (2007)

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Post Last Updated On 23rd October 2011

Steve Jobs' 2007 iPhone introduction videos (partial):


The youtube video links above mention that the videos belong to Apple, Inc. Therefore the Steve Jobs quotes/partial transcripts of the videos that I have given below also belong to Apple, Inc.

The iPhone was a revolutionary product (commercially), and today smart phones have become very significant multi-purpose computing devices. Prior to the iPhone I don't think people felt that you could really write general purpose apps for the smart phone. iPhone & AppStore changed all that. Now Android is a craze, and even for my "Service to Society" IT software I may end up writing a few Android apps. which may run on an Android tablet or smart phone. Perhaps Android owes its current craze/success to Steve Jobs proving with iPhone that smart phones can run general purpose apps. So I wanted to study this 2007 iPhone introduction video in depth and share some comments on it.

I think it really exemplifies Steve's marriage of creative vision & drive to create experientially beautiful consumer electronic products with hard business reality understanding. Perhaps he had realized during his days of exile from Apple that his special talents would be a runaway winner in the "consumer" products like portable music players and phones market as against the "enterprise" products like desktop/personal computers market. The Mac is certainly not a 'loser' but cannot be called, by any stretch of imagination, a runaway winner in the desktop/personal computer space.

Some quotes from Steve Jobs' iPhone introduction:

"Every once in a while a revolutionary product come along that changes everything.
In 1984 we introduced the Macintosh. It didn't just change Apple. It changed the whole computer industry."

Eklavya Sai: Now Apple was not the first company to use a mouse and the GUI for a computer - Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) developed the first computer that demonstrated the GUI in 1973; mouse was created by somebody else even earlier: But Apple's Macintosh, inspired by Steve Jobs' acumen for commercialising beautiful computing ideas, was the first commercially successful product to use the GUI. To get a feel of Steve's willingness to take on the big guns, see the famous Ad. introducing the Macintosh: Steve was taking on Big Blue (IBM) and the Ad. likened their dull & drab console based UI to Big Brother of George Orwell's "1984" fame. Fantastic theme but it apparently ran into copyright issues with George Orwell's estate. See: 1

But did Macintosh change the whole computer industry (by itself - implied)? I don't think so. In fact, I feel it is quite an exaggeration. But its successful commercialization perhaps made Microsoft start going the GUI way. With Microsoft Windows 3.0 in 1990, GUI exploded into cheap PCs that reached even small companies in India. I know from experience as my first exposure to GUI was with a project related to X-Windows in the late 80's. But that was on expensive Sun Workstations & Apollo workstations running Unix. Microsoft Windows ran on cheap Intel PCs and this affordable WINTEL combo was a massive game-changer in the desktop computing space. When I moved into a startup company in SEEPZ, Mumbai in 1990, we were able to buy cheap WINTEL PCs and have Microsoft Windows as well as SCO-Unix with X-Windows/Motif running on them. We started two GUI application software projects, one on Microsoft Windows and another on X-Windows/Motif in 1990 itself. But Macintosh was limited to desktop publishing kind of market in India and not really seen in software development consultancy companies. BTW I have not yet worked on a Macintosh.

So Apple did not invent the GUI and the mouse. They just were the first successful commercialisers of it with the Macintosh. But Macintosh was not able to really take over the desktop market with their GUI. That was done by Microsoft Windows & Intel. BTW Apple sued Microsoft over Windows but did not win - it seemed to have got settled out-of-court eventually.

I guess this exaggerated line just shows what a good showman and Ad-savvy guy Steve was.

"In 2001 we introduced the first iPod and it didn't just change the way we all listened to music, it changed the entire music industry."

Eklavya Sai: I think his claim about changing how "we all listened to music", especially in the affluent West, must be quite true barring minor exceptions, of course. I think iPod really was a music listening device, music library software & music purchasing software game-changer. While it would have had a very significant impact on the music industry - Steve pushed through hard business deals with music industry bigwigs - I don't know about changing "the entire music industry". From a music consumer point of view, I think iPod was truly a revolutionary game-changer. Even though mp3 players had been around for some time prior to the iPod, the click-wheel UI & software of the iPod just blew them away. states that over 300 million iPods have been sold. Over time the musicphones took over this space (minus iTunes lock-in) with the same wiki page stating that in 2007 the installed base of music phones passed 1 billion!! And so the iPhone had to come.

"An iPod, a phone and an internet communication device... These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone."

Eklavya Sai: This part does not seem to be so revolutionary, by itself. I mean, a lot of the smart phones already had music player, phone + internet. But his showmanship is great and the adulatory fans really lap it up.

"Business school 101 graph - smart axis & easy to use axis ... leap-frog product way smarter than any mobile device has ever been and super easy to use. This is what iPhone is. So we are going to reinvent the phone."

Eklavya Sai: I think he is SPOT ON here. Way smarter and super easy to use - No exaggeration here whatsoever, IMHO.

"Revolutionary UI ... interplay of hardware and software ... (popular smartphone models then) ... What's wrong with their user interface. Well, the problem with them is really sort-of in the bottom 40 there .. they all have these keyboards that are there whether you need them or not ... and they have all these control buttons that are the same, that are fixed in plastic for every application ... Every application needs ... a slightly optimized set of buttons just for it.... It doesn't work because the buttons and the controls can't change." 

Eklavya Sai: SPOT ON analysis, put so simply! [Update: A friend contested the "Revolutionary UI" term strongly. Touch interfaces were around prior to the iPhone. I feel the whole package - multi-touch, better touch technology and so no stylus, fantastic software, fast, sleek & light - can be termed 'revolutionary UI' especially at a commercial product level. Maybe something similar existed previously in niche markets and R&D labs. - but the world at large did not seem to know of it.]

"What we are going to do is get rid of all these buttons and get a giant screen.... Who wants a stylus? You have to get'em and put them away. Yuck!! Nobody wants a stylus."

Eklavya Sai: Could he understand people's needs & problems with using technology or what!! I think part of his genius lay here.

"(Touch screen) - Works like magic - Far more accurate - Ignores unintended touches - multi-finger gestures - and boy, have we Patented it!"

Eklavya Sai: Apple's hardware genius seems to have really delivered the goods here. Maybe they had some great touch screen technology supplier who was driven by Apple specs./design. I am not knowledgeable about touch screens, but I get the impression that prior to the iPhone the touch screen technology for mobile phones was not so great. I mean, I had seen guys tap around with their stylus but I had not seen anybody use his finger to operate the mobile phone touch screen.

"Software - iPhone runs OS X. -- Multi-tasking - networking - power management - awesome security - And to write apps - cocoa - graphics - animation - audio & video ... built right into iPhone ... and that has let us create desktop class applications & networking ... not the crippled stuff that you find on most phones - one of the pioneers of our industry, Alan Kay, has a lot of great quotes throughout the years and I ran across one of them recently that explains how we look at this ... cause we love software and here is the quote, "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware." Now, Alan said this thirty years ago. and this is how we feel about it and so we are bringing breakthrough software to the mobile device for the first time and its five years ahead of anything on any other phone."

Eklavya Sai: Steve clearly knew the value of software. Perhaps it was the decision to use "breakthrough software" meaning a very powerful OS X on the iPhone, which perhaps was truly years ahead of the competition that made the mind-boggling and absolutely fascinating variety of iPhone Apps possible. That seems to have been the key winner for iPhone. I mean, an iPhone or an iPod Touch without its Apps. would be as ordinary as a WINTEL PC without its Apps. 2

Being a Silicon Valley guy, Steve could create the hardware for the breakthrough software to run. I think in the consumer device space this hw+sw combo seems to be an outright winner. But not in the mainstream enterprise computing space where proprietary hw+sw coupling led to the demise of many erstwhile computer giants. BTW Alan Kay was associated with Xerox PARC GUI:

"Design - something wonderful for your hand - on the front only one button down there we call it the home button, takes you home from wherever you are - that's it."

Eklavya Sai: [Update: Watered down my original comment.] IMHO, a stroke of UI Genius. I mean, there was room for buttons on either side of the Home button. But they did not succumb to putting buttons there - they let the bitmapped screen buttons provide the other buttons besides Home. Fantastic clarity of design perspective. Makes it so simple for the users. If you land up somewhere weird in the App. just press the single bottom-centred Home button to get home - the safe, known space.

"... thinner than any smart phone out there"

Eklavya Sai: Hardware engineering genius of Apple. Steve was famous for insisting on elegant hardware no matter what.

"We have also got some stuff you can't see. We have got three really advanced sensors built into this phone ... proximity sensor ... when you bring iPhone upto your ear to take a phone call it turns off the display and it turns off the touch sensor instantly. Why do you want to do that? One to save the battery. Two, so that you don't get spurious input from your face into the touch screen. Just automatically turns it off, take (it) away and boom it is back on ... ambient light sensor ... accelerometer ... so you can tell when you switch from portrait to landscape; it's pretty cool."

Eklavya Sai: Perhaps proximity sensors in touch phones may have been old hat as other touch phones would have had the same issues as what Steve mentioned above. But the way he explains it is so dramatic and cool. Regarding accelerometer I recall that when I got my ipod Touch I was quite fascinated by the portrait to landscape switch as I rotated the device. I had never experienced that in any device earlier. So it was real cool. I think this relatively minor aspect of the iPhone must have appealed to a lot of people.

Eklavya Sai: The introduction goes on, beyond the two youtube videos given at the top, but I feel I can stop the analysis here. I would just like to add that another vital aspect of Steve Jobs' genius was his ability to drive innovative business deals with business partners like telephone carriers, music industry, etc. For techies, such skills are usually poor - somehow he could understand business tycoons of other fields and make them business offers they could not turn down :)


  1. As I started my software career in 1984 :), I can completely empathise with the theme of the Ad. I worked on Wang VS Computer line which was compatible with the IBM 360. Wang VS was introduced around the same time as DEC's VAX. Wang VS computers were referred to as mini-computers and targetted the mid-sized systems market where IBM was not completely dominant. In the mainframe sector (more powerful than mid-sized computers) it was IBM all the way. Absolute Dominance. It is difficult for today's techies to imagine the complete sway of IBM then in the business computing space. No wonder the Ad. had the Mac. taking on THE Big Brother. And here is some info. about Wang Labs. including a photo of its HQ where I had worked for 2 assignment stints totaling over one and a half years in late 80s:

  1. I possess an iPod Touch, but I don't own an iPhone. Instead I have a Nokia E-52 with the plastic keyboard :). But then I do not use my mobile phone much.


Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 11, 2011 at 10:32 PM

A friend sent these links on Steve Jobs. They talk about his leadership ability to turn Apple around, and some other things. Worth a read.

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 11, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Fascinating joint interview of Steve Jobs & Bill Gates in 2007:

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 12, 2011 at 9:56 PM

A friend wrote:

I agree largely. Exceptions below:

Yes, sometimes it's irritating when he calls everything magical or revolutionary, or claims he invented something groundbreaking when they've copied it from elsewhere. I got irritated after watching a few keynotes (not at once, but over the last couple of years). I mean, give me a break from all the magic talk. Now in all the adulation, I've forgotten that.

Steve Jobs is supposed to have this nasty habit: Someone would present an idea, and he'd say, "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard. Why would you want to do that?" And he'd later present that idea as his own.

As for your point that the Mac wasn't revolutionary because it didn't have a high market share, it would still be revolutionary if Windows largely copied genuine innovations from the Mac as opposed to if Windows copied things from PARC or copied things from Mac that the Mac itself copied from PARC. Until we know the answer to that question, we can't determine whether the mac was revolutionary.

I agree that the iPod itself probably wasn't a game-changer as much as a better mousetrap, but if you read iPod as iPod + iTunes + iTunes Store, it was. Music is now available legally online.

As for enterprise, Steve said it's hard because among other reasons, the users of the software are not the ones who decide what software should be used.

And with the consumerization of IT (consumer technology is now more advanced than enterprise technology, whether iOS or Google Docs or gmail or DropBox...), I'd say not focusing on enterprise was a good decision.

I doubt pre-iPhone touch phones had a proximity sensor. The vendors were clueless and just stuck a touchscreen on the device, checked the appropriate box in the checklist and went back to their old ways.

As for iPhone being more advanced, as a person who's worked (to varying degrees) on almost half a dozen mobile platforms (iOS, Android, J2ME, Symbian, Windows Mobile -- the old one), iOS is the best platform. What I care about is the user experience you can build, and the effort it takes to build that user experience, and iOS is far ahead of everything else. For example, it takes two lines of code to have an animated transition (and it's hardware accelerated), compared to taking 3 months to write a Hello World app for Symbian (unimaginable amount of friction). Even if you have an infinite amount of time to spend building an app, the Symbian or J2ME app just looks ho-hum, so you've essentially wasted your time, whereas the iOS app delights its audience far far more than they would expect from mere software.

iOS is as beautiful inside (as a programmer) as on the outside (the user experience). It's even more advanced than Mac OS X on the desktop in a few places.

This is why I'll happily spend $1000 next fortnight for a top-of-the-line iPhone 4S with 64 GB RAM :)

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 12, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Thanks for your knowledgeable comments. Especially the one on iOS. I have zero programming exposure on mobile platforms but am planning to look at Android somewhere down the line as rural India cannot afford iPhone. But your high praise about iOS may make me have a look at it just to get a feel of how great it is. Your point about iOS app. delighting audience is a striking one. Seems to confirm my view that iPhone's very powerful OS software choice "made the mind-boggling and absolutely fascinating variety of iPhone Apps possible".

And, do enjoy your iPhone 4S when you get it :)

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM

A friend passed on this link which shows a nice, simple human side of Steve.:
I must say that this is something I admire in Americans. During my stints in the US I have seen how top managers can also be very simple man-on-the-street kind of nice-guys as well.

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 13, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Here's a BusinessWeek article giving business heads' vignettes of Steve: I got some great insights about Steve from this. In my industry experience I realized that these top business heads meeting up and joining together or fighting each other often results in decisions and actions that affect many companies and many industry professionals like me!!! As an example, the rise of Microsoft & Intel in the very early 90s meant the fall of the Wang VS mini-computer (and other mini-computer companies like DEC), and along with that fall it resulted in a fall in demand of professionals with Wang VS expertise. So as a professional I had to sense the changing times and move to different tech. areas/acquire different skill sets or PERISH. I chose to move from Wang VS/Unix/C to the Windows/C scene then (Windows/C++/VC++ was not around then; that came in '92-93) and that decision paid off well!!

Especially enjoyed the description of how a former Motorola CEO watched Steve Jobs in 2004 grab from him the then yet-to-be-introduced clamshell Razr phone model from Motorola and ask about its manufacturing process & materials used, and realized that Steve is "going to do a phone"!!! This is how the top business guys play the tough and ruthless industry game. Almost like how kings in the past used to jockey for power & dominion.

I have had some exposure to it on a far smaller scale when I was pushing marketing for a startup software consultancy where I was the software head. The marketing area is where one sees the real power struggles and competition - by marketing I don't mean just Ads. & Sales. The wiki on Marketing states, "Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development.": I mean Marketing in this complete sense.

So I think I can really "get the picture" from this BusinessWeek article :)

Ravi S. Iyer, March 25, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Creation Myth: Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation; by Malcolm Gladwell May 16, 2011.

A very insightful and delightful account of the fact and fiction of creative ideas moving between Apple & Xerox PARC. Not only is the Macintosh idea covered with interesting info. about Steve Jobs and others' role in it but even how Xerox created "the first high-speed, cut-paper laser printer in the world". The article states, "Gary Starkweather’s laser printer made billions for Xerox. It paid for every other single project at Xerox PARC, many times over." This is news to me! I knew about Xerox PARC not successfully commercializing its "Xerox Alto" and wondered whether Xerox PARC was a commercial failure. Now I am better informed. confirms that Gary Starkweather of Xerox invented the laser printer.

The article ends on a very poignant note about how a particular kind of innovation may match one particular kind of company but may be a mismatch for another kind of company, even if the latter company is widely considered to be a torch-bearer of innovation. Read the article to experience the pathos - I don't want to spoil it by revealing the latter company's name.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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