Retro Reading: PowerBook Central Coverage of ‘iDay’ iPhone Launch

FEATURE: 07.02.18- Welcome to the premiere edition of a new series here in my column on MacPrices called “Retro Reading” where we dig deep into the PowerBook Central archives for headlines written on today’s date several years ago. (PowerBook Central, established in 1997 and retired in 2015, was recently merged with its sister site MacPrices in May 2018).

Today we take a look back at my coverage a little more than a decade ago of the launch of the very first iPhone dubbed internally by Apple, Inc. as “iDay.” The new smartphone designed by the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology company was released nationwide on June 29 but I did not publish my coverage of the day until three days later on July 2.

My game plan for the day was to visit two locations each with an Apple Store and an AT&T Store nearby. I chose the Bay Street shopping center in Emeryville, Calif. (located between Berkeley and Oakland just east of San Francisco) where Apple was right across the street from Cingular Wireless owned and operate by AT&T. The other location had me heading over across the Bay where the main event accommodating the media was being held, to the flagship Apple Store, then on Stockton Street in downtown San Francisco (now in Union Square in S.F.) which also had an AT&T Store a few blocks away. I first went to Emeryville to take some photographs and interview a couple of the initial customers in line at both stores and then left to go in to the city by subway train to see how things were faring at the flagship store in San Francisco. Since I had started my day in Emeryville, I missed the long lines and commotion when the doors opened for sales of the phone and by the time I entered the flagship store about 2.5 hours after they opened for the evening, to my surprise they were not sold out of iPhones nor were there longer any lines outside on the street. I would also conduct interviews there and at AT&T along with photographs of the event.

A customer visiting the flagship Apple Store on Stockton Street in San Francisco the evening of the iPhone launch event tests out the device by calling himself on the new smartphone released by Apple on June 29, 2007. (Photo: Joe Leo)

So, let’s look at what I wrote about my coverage of that day 11 years ago last Friday, shall we?

Here is just a sample of my news article published on July 2, 2007:

Friday, June 29th… A day which will live in infamy. No, wait, that’s another day in history. But as far as the year 2007 is concerned, it was the world premiere of Apple’s newest tech gadget device, the cell phone / iPod / internet device called the iPhone. And history has yet to write the pages of this story.

It’s too early to tell just what the future ramifications of Apple’s iPhone holds in store. Will it change the world as we know it? Will it be as groundbreaking as Alexander Graham Bell’s invention back in 1876? No one knows. But still, people lined up for it. “If you build it, will they come?” Yes they did, and in droves.

But what is clear from the get go is that Apple succeeded in terms of the hype factor. Hundreds of people lined up at their local Apple and/or AT&T (or Cingular Wireless stores owned and operated by AT&T) stores, hoping to be the first to take home an iPhone, not wanting to be left out in the cold without one. And therein lies the question.

Was it worth it for those that spent hours, even days, in line just to get their hands on one?

I can’t answer that last question that I posed because I did not line up as a customer to get that very first iPhone since I was still on my two-year contract with Sprint with a Samsung flip cell phone.. Myfirst iPhone would be the iPhone 3G released the next year (which I covered for PowerBook Central as well) and the only reason I got in line then was to cover the product launch and not to buy the device. I would wait a few weeks to purchase mine sans the long lines and get it at Best Buy. In fact, I have never lined up to buy an iPhone, electing to wait until the lines have died down and initial hype for the product has waned. But I have been a happy camper ever since the day I switched to AT&T and left the flip cell phones behind for the Apple branded smartphone. I have owned an iPhone 3G, 4, 5, and an SE, my current iPhone.

My sub-headline for the article was “Too Early to Tell How History Will View/Record June 29, 2007.” Of course, in the years to follow, we knew what type of impact and a game changer the iPhone would be and a little more than a decade after the very first iPhone was released, while the lines aren’t that long and have grown a little less like a mob scene, people still come forth to line up to purchase or upgrade to the newest iteration that Apple releases and there have been 13 models to date, the most recent last year’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

What makes it more amazing is that the iPhone hasn’t really changed much since it was announced by the late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs and unveiled onstage at the Macworld Expo in January 2007 (an event I also covered and live blogged for PowerBook Central). It may have gotten new components on the inside, different materials on the outside, and in recent years a “plus” size, but in general, Apple has stuck to what has worked from the very start and people keep buying the device year after year.

Apple sold, per Jobs himself, roughly 400 million iPhones that very first year of its release and 1.2 billion iPhones in total by its tenth anniversary as reported by Forbes magazine on June 29, 2017. They are, as of 2017, ranked the second largest smartphone vendor in the world with only a global maarketshare of 15% according to the website statista.com.

I don’t have a link of the image but I remember coming across an article one year a couple of years after the iPhone debuted and accompanying the article was a photo that showed how cell phones used to look until Apple reinvented the phone and after that, all cell phones became smartphones and took on the same form factor that Apple had designed with their iPhone. It really was an eye opener at the time.

We only need to take the words of the Apple Store customer in line at the Bay Street shopping center in Emeryville who I interviewed that day.

“My sense is, like other Mac products, its simplicity of use / ease of use. I think it’s going to have an impact but it won’t take away from the Blackberry market yet. The platform will be hard to copy but Apple will build upon it over time.”

He would add, “Eventually it’s the way the industry will go.”

A great prediction considering he said it on the day of the original iPhone product launch so unless he was a visitor from the future, he was pretty spot on with his prognostication. The Blackberry is now and long since been history even though they tried with their own keyboard-less smartphone to copy the iPhone and every other manufacturer’s phone to date looks like an iPhone as well. And on the platform, other than Apple’s iOS, the other competing software on the market is Google’s copycat Android operating system which the majority of non-Apple smartphones have as its OS.

To read the full version of my original article, visit this link: “‘If You Build It, Will They Come?’: Yes, iDid

Thanks for joining me on this premiere edition of Retro Reading where we took a look back at a headline from this particular date on the calendar from my days writing for PowerBook Central. Join me again next time when we dig deep back in to my archives and see what headlines were displayed on the front page of the website.

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