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Flashback: Ten years ago today, Apple unveiled the original iPhone


NewsHubFlashback is an occasional series in which we take a trip down Memory Lane, to revisit products, brands and moments from the world of technology past.
Apple didn’t invent the smartphone. Considering the extraordinary impact it had on the mobile industry, it’s perhaps forgivable that some people have come to believe that, but smartphones have been around for a lot longer than some folks think.
In the early 2000s – or the ‘Noughties’, if you prefer – smartphones existed in considerable numbers, built by the likes of RIM (later BlackBerry), Palm, and various other companies, including some that used Microsoft’s Pocket PC/Windows Mobile operating systems. BlackBerry devices won over business users in vast numbers, thanks to their peerless support for email, and their much-liked hardware keyboards, which made text entry a breeze. Palm also gained a loyal following among business types and consumers alike with many keyboard-equipped devices, and a wide range of third-party applications available for Palm OS.
Like many other mobile manufacturers of the time, Palm also built Windows Mobile devices. Microsoft’s OS supported third-party apps too, as well as including versions of its own Office apps, which the company touted as the height of mobile productivity. Its support for business-friendly features like Exchange ActiveSync push email also made it a favorite among companies keen to take advantage of new technologies on the go.
But devices like these were far from perfect. Windows Mobile, for example, was awkwardly split between a non-touch version for smartphones with a T9 keypad, and a touchscreen version for PDAs (personal digital assistants – no relation) that still relied heavily on a stylus to complete even the most basic tasks. On-device app stores as we now know them didn’t exist. And as demand for larger touchscreens was increasing, companies like HTC were being forced to develop their own touch-friendly UI skins to make the OS more usable with fingers rather than pokey-sticks.
So when Apple unveiled the original iPhone ten years ago today – on January 9, 2007 at 9: 42am Pacific Time – the mobile market was undoubtedly ready, even eager, for some fresh thinking to shake things up.

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