The iPhone at 10: What the pundits are saying — updated

Excerpts from some of my favorites. More as they come in.

Dan Moran, Six ColorsHoly cow, the iPhone turns ten today! A decade of multitouch and little rounded-rectangle icons.

Colin Jost, SNL: Imagine how different our lives would be without iPhones… Kids in America would have great posture and kids in China would have a day off.

Steven Levy, Backchannel: These are our digital protheses. We are cyborgs, appended to smart phones that give us power, and make us weaker when we for some reason don’t have one. No one knew this would happen, including Apple.

Ben Thompson, Stratechery: So here we are, ten years on: over two billion people own smartphones, the entire post-World War II economic order is teetering, and populism is on the march; I don’t think these facts are independent of each other.

Jan Dawson, Techpinions: Almost none of the technology we use today is unaffected by the innovations introduced ten years ago this week.

Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday NoteIn retrospect, the ascendency of Smartphone 2.0 and the way it has shaped our culture seems obvious and natural. But the celebration and contemplation overlooks a crucial Sine Qua Non, a necessary (but not sufficient) condition: Unlocking the carriers’ grip on handset specifications, marketing, and content distribution. More specifically, we owe Steve Jobs an enormous debt of gratitude for breaking the carriers’ backs (to avoid a more colorful phrase).

Om Malik, True Ventures: As someone said, there is the world before the iPhone and the world after the iPhone. I am just glad to have chronicled its rise, first hand.

Philip Delves Broughton, Financial Times: In museums of the future, the iPhone will mark the step in human evolution towards the time when we all have chips in our skulls, augmenting our brains with all the knowledge and capacities of artificial intelligence.

Zach Epstein, BGR: The giants of the smartphone industry all laughed off the iPhone as a device that could never compete with industry leaders. Behind closed doors, one Nokia executive told me at the time that Nokia was a fisherman and Apple was a fly buzzing around its head.

Rene Ritchie, iMoreI had a Treo 650 or 680 back then and ended up counting the days until iPhone was released. And then counting some more until I could actually get one. Today, I have an iPhone 7 Plus that does more for me now than my laptop did then.

Brian McCullough, Internet History PodcastEvery time you see someone, head down, engrossed in their phone, it’s worth realizing that the truly personal computer revolution came in the form of a phone. Of course, it isn’t just a phone, it’s a tiny supercomputer.

Niel Cybart. Above Avalon: This is a company that is milking the iPhone… Instead of the term meaning squeezing profit out of the iPhone, which Apple is doing by the way, management’s primary goal is to use the iPhone to grow the Apple user base.

Andrew Murphy, Loup Ventures: Even though the iPhone today makes the iPod look irrelevant, it stands on its shoulders. Apple ramped its iPhone production capability to the incomprehensible level it’s at today because of the baby steps it took with the iPod line, ramping capability for flash storage, mobile displays, camera lenses, etc.

Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsiderAfter ten years of defending its iPhone sales from competitive threats, Apple is in the enviable position of expanding its R&D and acquisition targets while facing sharply limited direct competition.

Ina Fried, Recode: As Apple celebrates 10 years since the introduction of the iPhone, investors and consumers alike are impatiently waiting for Apple’s next big hit.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet: How long can Apple continue to play it safe before it has to once again start taking big, disruptive risks?

Horace Dediu, Asymco: As we look toward the second decade of the iPhone, the expectation isn’t one of another “big bang” but a process of continuous improvement. The market is nearing saturation so the goals must be to capture more switchers from Android. Apple has achieved this with the Mac: survival, persistence and eventual redemption.

Below: Ten years ago today, via YouTube.


  1. John Kirk said:
    “Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet: How long can Apple continue to play it safe before it has to once again start taking big, disruptive risks?”

    Oh, woe to Apple! They haven’t created a world changing product in over a decade!

    Google has one product.

    Facebook has one product.

    Microsoft has…eh, what does Microsoft have?

    But yeah, let’s chastise Apple — the company that revolutionized tech and the world only ten short years ago — for not taking risks.

    January 9, 2017
  2. John Kirk said:
    There are so many things to take from Steve Jobs’ initial iPhone presentation. But here’s one thing I remember. Steve Jobs said Apple was introducing three new products. A new iPod. Huge applause. A phone. HUGE applause. An internet communicator. Polite golf clap. People had no idea what that was all about or why they’d need it. And, of course, the internet communicator turned out to be the most important of the three tentpole features. By far.

    We not only can’t envision the future, we don’t recognize it even when it smacks us in the face.

    January 9, 2017
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Tonight, I’ll raise a glass to the hardworking people at Apple.
    Some observations about how the future might surprise us:
    The camera was barely covered in that launch. It is arguably the biggest single driver of iPhone upgrade sales over the last few years.
    10 years ago, who would have predicted a $40B pre-IPO company valuation for a ride hailer service that relies on SmartPhones.
    Wearables and Siri are still in “extended beta”. No worry about all the OMG AAPL stories we see.

    January 9, 2017

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