Ten Years Ago…The Apple iPhone Didn’t Change Much Of Anything

By  |  0 Comments

In 2007, the iPhone lacked many of the capabilities of its contemporary smartphones.

When the original iPhone was announced, I was interested, but wanted to put off buying it.  It didn’t really offer any capabilities beyond the smartphone I already owned, an Audiovox XV6600 Pocket PC. That device was quite incredible at the time.

With the XV6600, I could stream live cable TV from a Slingbox. Connected to a Bluetooth GPS receiver, I had full navigation capabilities. The phone had a removeable SD card slot, so while internal memory was limited, I could pack as many cards as I wanted. Running Windows Mobile, I could download and run whatever programs I wanted. Oh, and it had a full physical keyboard that slid out from behind the screen.

Unfortunately, the Audiovox also had a few drawbacks. It required a stylus to be used effectively…and those tended to get lost. Its screen was very fragile resulting in regular insurance replacement phones. It also had an annoying habit of factory resetting itself, which ended the fun of all its customization capabilities. I’d spend a week getting everything absolutely perfect…then drop the phone, causing the external battery to be ejected and when I put it back together, it was back to the way it arrived, with no contacts or anything. This got annoying.

A month after the iPhone’s heralded release, my Windows smartphone died. I was right at the end of my Verizon contract and had used up all my Audiovox’s insurance replacements. Everything was aligned for me to buy this brand new iPhone everyone was talking about.

The Smartphone Landscape circa 2007

When the iPhone was released, there was a massive hierarchy of cellphones. Most people still had flip phones. The cameraphone was mainstream. Blackberries and Palms were around, but expensive and business-oriented, so most people got them through work. Then there were Sidekicks, that were a bit crap as smartphones, but could at least let you chat on AIM with your friends. Part of the reason for the hierarchy is that you usually had to pay for your high-end phone outright and most kids I knew didn’t have $500 to drop on phone.

Buying the first iPhone

I had $500 to drop on an iPhone, so I went to the Apple Store in Providence and picked one up. This was a pretty simple process that involved me switching from the excellent Verizon network to the far less excellent AT&T network. AT&T was the only carrier that would give Steve Jobs the autonomy to release the iPhone as he wanted, so they were the only game in town.

There was a lot this phone couldn’t do. A lot of things that would blow everyone’s minds today. But early adopters put up with this crap because, from the outside at least, it looks cool when you’re the first:

  • No App Store. What the phone arrived with was what you got.
  • Couldn’t use Hotmail with the email app, necessitating the creation of a Gmail account.
  • Use Flash (at a time when half the Internet was Flash)
  • COPY AND PASTE (seriously…there was no capability to copy and paste)
  • Receive MMS messages. (No sexting for you!)
  • Talk to my Bluetooth GPS unit.
  • Connect to my Slingbox
  • Connect to regular headphones
  • Use a 3G network

Oh, and Apple dropped the price $200 dollars two months after releasing it (a month after I bought it). They gave me $100 store credit for my troubles.

So owning the first iPhone was driving a Ferrari that had a 50 horsepower engine and the doors welded shut. It was slow and inconvenient and…everyone wanted to check it out because they all thought it was better than everything else on the market. (That said, new iPhones don’t mind creating their own headaches…)

It wasn’t until a year later when Apple released the iPhone 3g and launched the App Store that the iPhone really started to change our lives. The first one was basically watching Tom Brady at the NFL Draft Combine. It was going to go places but it started out a bit crap.

-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Apple Correspondent

Tristan's just this guy, ya know?