Unlike so many overhyped technology keynotes, which may in fact be pretty much every keynote these days to be honest, the one Steve Jobs delivered in January 2007 to show us the first iPhone is still pretty mind-blowing.
Yes, the first iPhone was quite limited in many important ways. But it was such a quantum leap over everything that came before it, that re-watching the keynote still has the feel of experiencing a historic moment.
But…the passing of time has a way of making us all look like fools. (Honestly, if you saw my junior high school class photos…). And even Jobs is not immune. Here are four things he said on stage that day are now unintentionally hilarious:
1. “You can’t think about the Internet without thinking about Yahoo.”
Yes, you can. Jobs was introducing Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang because the company was a critical partner in the iPhone’s email service. Of course, Yahoo was struggling even then to figure out what Yahoo was. Ten years passed and it never did. Now, the company has been subsumed by Verizon and remains a digital after-ran.
2. “Who wants a stylus? You have to get them and put them away and you lose them. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.”
In September 2015, Apple introduced a stylus. Yes, it’s for the iPad. It’s called Apple Pencil. And Apple has gone to great lengths to insist it’s not a stylus.
It’s a stylus. A fancy one, but still a stylus. Jobs hated them.
3. “It’s my pleasure now to introduce Dr. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO.”
Schmidt was an Apple board member and Google search and maps were critical features on the first iPhone. Little did Jobs know that Google would soon be releasing Android, a free alternative mobile OS that would become the global market share leader.
In short order, Schmidt would be off Apple’s board. And Jobs, furious at what he believed was the outright theft of Apple’s design, would launch a prolonged legal battle against Android’s leading hardware partner, Samsung, that continues to this day.
Bonus: As Schmidt was leaving the stage, Jobs chirped: “As a board member, you’ll be getting one of the first ones!”
4. “See if we can get 1% market share in 2008, and go from there.”
No doubt Jobs was trying to lowball expectations. But in that first year, Apple sold 30 percent more iPhones than Jobs projected that day. By the next year, competitors who had shrugged off the iPhone such as BlackBerry and Nokia were in freefall, and Microsoft was struggling to adapt its mobile strategy but never did.
More than just marketshare, the iPhone would change so much of the world that even today it’s hard to understate its importance. So that modest prediction by Jobs is amusing today. Though probably not so funny to the companies that were torpedoed by its success.
Finally, if you’ve never watched that keynote, you absolutely should: