Phil Schiller discusses iPhone's impact on Apple, 10 years after launch

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On the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's unveiling, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller reminisced on the past decade, talking about what the iPhone means to the company, how it has changed Apple over time, and the marks the device has made on the entire world.




Interviewer Steven Levy with Backchannel sat down with Schiller to discuss the iPhone and the impact of the device, a decade later. Both men were present for the reveal of the device -- Schiller obviously as part of Apple, and Levy to report on the reveal.

The genesis of the iPhone

Schiller noted that while an internal debate about opening up the iPhone like the Mac's software, it started as a closed system because of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' mandate that it be so, for practicality.

"We don't have to keep debating this because we can't have [an open system] right now," Jobs said to Schiller. "Maybe we'll change our mind afterwards, or maybe we won't, but for now there isn't one so let's envision this world where we solve the problem with great built-in apps and a way for developers to make web apps."




Shortly after the iPhone launch, Apple opened up the phone to developers, and launched the App Store.

"When we started on iPhone, we could envision that phones would change forever and get better. We could envision that we could surf the web on them. We could envision that we could get our email. We could envision that it would replace our iPod one day," said Schiller. "But the magical thing that happened along the journey of iPhone is that it also became our most important device in our life."

The iPod, then the iPhone drove Apple's evolution

"If it weren't for iPod, I don't know that there would ever be iPhone." Schiller said. "It introduced Apple to customers that were not typical Apple customers, so iPod went from being an accessory to Mac to becoming its own cultural momentum."

The iPhone was nearly immediately successful, contrary to nay-sayers in the mainstream media and tech press.

"Apple changed. Our marketing changed. We had silhouette ads with dancers and an iconic product with white headphones." Schiller added. "We asked, 'Well, if Apple can do this one thing different than all of its previous products, what else can Apple do?'"

Apple, as it always has been

Schiller acknowledged that Apple has detractors who claim that the iPhone's impact is far less than claimed, and that the company isn't taking risks like it used to.

"I think our expectations are changing more, not the leaps in the products," answered Schiller. "If you look through every version -- from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G to the 4 to the 4S, you see great changes all throughout."




"When we started iPhone, I recall Steve saying we have a five year lead on everybody. That has turned out to be a very accurate statement," Schiller said. "The size of the cell phone market and the importance of smartphones has attracted everybody in the world who can get into the business to try to get into the business. Some have succeeded, some have failed. Competition is great. It pushes us."

The next great thing... is the iPhone

Schiller stands behind everything Apple has done, and believes that the iPhone is not just a key part of Apple's past, but Apple's future as well.

"Everyone has their opinions at this point, but it could be that we're only in the first minutes of the first quarter of the game," said Schiller. "I believe this product is so great that it has many years of innovation ahead."

Acknowledging that voice recognition and digital assistants are blossoming in Siri and Amazon's Alexa, Schiller still believes that a device like the iPhone is superior to a desk-bound device.

"People are forgetting the value and importance of the display," Schiller said. "Some of the greatest innovations on iPhone over the last ten years have been in display. Displays are not going to go away. We still like to take pictures and we need to look at them, and a disembodied voice is not going to show me what the picture is."

"We're not about the cheapest," emphasized Schiller. "We're not about the most, we're about the best."

Ten years ago Monday, Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone during the keynote address at Macworld 2007. Originally slated to have a plastic display cover, the final product had a first-of-its-kind glass multi-touch display, with a 320x480-pixel resolution at 163 pixels per inch, up to 16 gigabytes of flash memory, 802.11g Wi-Fi, a 2-megapixel camera, support for the EDGE 2G wireless network, and Bluetooth 2.0.

The iPhone 7, released in September 2016, is said to be up to 120x faster than the original iPhone, and has a 750x1334-pixel display at 326 pixels per inch, up to 256 gigabytes of storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 12-megapixel cameras, 4G network support, plus Bluetooth 4.2. Other features include Apple Pay, and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    I remember this like it was yesterday. I bought one for myself and my 17 year old daughter. After a week, she said, "Dad, I love it. My whole life is in this phone!" I loved it for the email, contacts organization, Visual email, Notes. I started by leaving my iBook in the car. Then stopped carrying my iBook altogether. 

    Good times. :)


    P.S. My daughter gave me the AirPods for Christmas. Just went on a 6 mile run, not once did they fall out. Typical brilliant Apple product.
    Rayz2016StrangeDayssuddenly newtonzroger73tokyojimuai46jkichlineam8449albegarcpscooter63
  • Reply 2 of 18
    I still cannot imagine myself using anything other than an iPhone, the simplicity it had, the way it just worked was pure magic that continues on to this day. I am however noticing that as more and more Apple systems get integrated into iOS some of the features are getting more and more obscured and the occurrence of bugs has increased. These are however, the rough edges on the diamond, that can be polished to perfection with some time and care.
    ai46albegarcnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,304member
    And every year, critics still believe Apple will fail. Remember the fools that said Apple should end the iPhone before it began? How do they still keep their jobs? 
    suddenly newtonai46watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    Donvermo said:
    I still cannot imagine myself using anything other than an iPhone, the simplicity it had, the way it just worked was pure magic that continues on to this day. I am however noticing that as more and more Apple systems get integrated into iOS some of the features are getting more and more obscured and the occurrence of bugs has increased. These are however, the rough edges on the diamond, that can be polished to perfection with some time and care.
    Well said...I remember the original iPhone didn't have "Copy & Paste." And then when it did, it was so elegant and easy to use.  
    ai46albegarcwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,133member
    Meh. Apple lost its way. The focus on iOS and the iPhone is killing Mac OS, the Mac, and other products. The pace of "major upgrades" to the OS just to sell the same device again every year is killing Apple's software.

    The most successful product has become an addiction. Once the fad ends, what will Apple do?

    All I see now is Wall Street games and a company "lead" by MBA mindsets and Peter-Principle executives (Ive, especially). It's not the company that convinced me to abandon PC/Windows for Mac in 2008.
  • Reply 6 of 18
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,665member
    dysamoria said:

    The most successful product has become an addiction. Once the fad ends, what will Apple do?

     They'll just create another multi-billion dollar, years long (probably decades long) "fad" and rinse/repeat. 



    Here's a clue:

    The iPhone (that is, Apple's MOBILE HANDSET) isn't a "fad"... it's a staple of daily life. You're just looking at Apple's version of it. 

    The problem with the whole "fad" bullshit, is that the iPhone is *not* the iPhone: it's Apple's entire mobile ecosystem, and the service and support that goes with it. And that isn't a fad, it's a fact of life. 
    edited January 9 tmayai46StrangeDaysalbegarcpscooter63netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    dysamoria said:
    Meh. Apple lost its way. The focus on iOS and the iPhone is killing Mac OS, the Mac, and other products. The pace of "major upgrades" to the OS just to sell the same device again every year is killing Apple's software.

    The most successful product has become an addiction. Once the fad ends, what will Apple do?

    All I see now is Wall Street games and a company "lead" by MBA mindsets and Peter-Principle executives (Ive, especially). It's not the company that convinced me to abandon PC/Windows for Mac in 2008.
    Oh my. Have you contacted Tim Cook about your concerns? He no doubt wants to hear your thoughts about their current product strategy.
    StrangeDaysnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 424member
    It really doesn't seem like it was that long ago when I bought an iPhone then a 3GS then a 4S then a 6. I skipped the 6S and have little interest in the 7. I hope my next iPhone has an OLED display and wireless charging. I sold my 3GS to co-worker shortly after the 4S was released. This morning, I learned that the 3GS still works and is still in use - almost 7 years later! That's amazing to me - especially considering it's lived a ROUGH life since I sold it.
    albegarcnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,155member
    dysamoria said:
    Meh. Apple lost its way. The focus on iOS and the iPhone is killing Mac OS, the Mac, and other products. The pace of "major upgrades" to the OS just to sell the same device again every year is killing Apple's software.

    The most successful product has become an addiction. Once the fad ends, what will Apple do?

    All I see now is Wall Street games and a company "lead" by MBA mindsets and Peter-Principle executives (Ive, especially). It's not the company that convinced me to abandon PC/Windows for Mac in 2008.
    Focus on iOS / iPhone doesn't equal killing the Mac. That's an over exaggeration. You can complain about the slow pace of updates but not the death of the Mac. If Apple was going to kill the Mac, they wouldn't have spent at least 4 years of time, manpower, and R&D money to come out with the Touch Bar for the Mac.
    edited January 9 StrangeDayspscooter63netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,944member
    dysamoria said:
    Meh. Apple lost its way. The focus on iOS and the iPhone is killing Mac OS, the Mac, and other products. The pace of "major upgrades" to the OS just to sell the same device again every year is killing Apple's software.

    The most successful product has become an addiction. Once the fad ends, what will Apple do?

    All I see now is Wall Street games and a company "lead" by MBA mindsets and Peter-Principle executives (Ive, especially). It's not the company that convinced me to abandon PC/Windows for Mac in 2008.
    Based on your thought train, I have no reason to believe you use any Apple products. The annual OS updates doesn't make anyone buy a new Mac or iOS device every year. If you use Apple products, you'd know that, suggesting that your opinion is not credible because your facts are false. Right now, my daily desktop is a 2011 iMac and it's up to date on the latest OS. And if for some reason it's not supported by this fall's macOS, I would still use it just fine. Being no longer supported by a new OS version doesn't mean the device breaks down. Right now my file server is a 2007 educational 17" iMac. The machine works pretty well.

    People like you have been nay-saying Apple for several decades now. Maybe it's time to get a different hobby? Especially if you can't even get basic facts right on the company you hate.
    edited January 9 StrangeDaysnetmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,324member
    dysamoria said:
    Meh. Apple lost its way. The focus on iOS and the iPhone is killing Mac OS, the Mac, and other products. The pace of "major upgrades" to the OS just to sell the same device again every year is killing Apple's software.

    The most successful product has become an addiction. Once the fad ends, what will Apple do?

    All I see now is Wall Street games and a company "lead" by MBA mindsets and Peter-Principle executives (Ive, especially). It's not the company that convinced me to abandon PC/Windows for Mac in 2008.
    Focus on iOS / iPhone doesn't equal killing the Mac. That's an over exaggeration. You can complain about the slow pace of updates but not the death of the Mac. If Apple was going to kill the Mac, they wouldn't have spent at least 4 years of time, manpower, and R&D money to come out with the Touch Bar for the Mac.
    Yep. Gruber said he heard it was ten years, by the way.
    edited January 9 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,155member
    flaneur said:
    dysamoria said:
    Meh. Apple lost its way. The focus on iOS and the iPhone is killing Mac OS, the Mac, and other products. The pace of "major upgrades" to the OS just to sell the same device again every year is killing Apple's software.

    The most successful product has become an addiction. Once the fad ends, what will Apple do?

    All I see now is Wall Street games and a company "lead" by MBA mindsets and Peter-Principle executives (Ive, especially). It's not the company that convinced me to abandon PC/Windows for Mac in 2008.
    Focus on iOS / iPhone doesn't equal killing the Mac. That's an over exaggeration. You can complain about the slow pace of updates but not the death of the Mac. If Apple was going to kill the Mac, they wouldn't have spent at least 4 years of time, manpower, and R&D money to come out with the Touch Bar for the Mac.
    Yep. Gruber said he heard it was ten years, by the way.
    ten years? Wow
    edited January 9 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 102member
    I remember when the iPhone first came out. My father got one the first day it was on sale. I was pretty jealous. Pretty soon my friends had one and I still had a Motorola Razr. My friends were all clueless on how to use them but being the Apple savvy tech user I was, I taught them how to use it before I even owned one. When I finally got my first iPhone, the 3G I was instantly hooked and it became a complete game changer. 

    I don't see Apple ever abandoning the Macintosh. The iPhone is an extension of the Mac. If you think about and ask yourself, what do you truly need your Mac to do tomorrow that it can't do today, then you're going about it wrong. Today the Mac can edit photos, create beautiful home movies and edit feature length films, mix and master audio, write documents and spreadsheets, develop software, create stunning graphics for any scope imaginable and so much more. What do you need it to do tomorrow that it can't do today?
    netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,550member
    I agree with the proposition that Apple does not need another product to be an iPhone-level hit anytime soon. I agree that there is still a lot of potential with the iPhone. 

    The question in my head is whether Apple can realize that potential. I used to think it was a slam dunk that they would. Now I feel like they have about a 2 in 3 shot of doing it. 


  • Reply 15 of 18
    dysamoria said:
    Meh. Apple lost its way. The focus on iOS and the iPhone is killing Mac OS, the Mac, and other products. The pace of "major upgrades" to the OS just to sell the same device again every year is killing Apple's software.

    The most successful product has become an addiction. Once the fad ends, what will Apple do?

    All I see now is Wall Street games and a company "lead" by MBA mindsets and Peter-Principle executives (Ive, especially). It's not the company that convinced me to abandon PC/Windows for Mac in 2008.
    Boy, this is pretty much nonsense. "Killing the Mac OS"? macOS is better today than it's ever been -- in no way would I prefer to use an older version of OS X, would you? If not, how can you say iOS is killing macOS? Likewise for Macs -- today's Macs are the best they've ever been, and I'd never want an older variant. The 5k iMac kills my 2011 iMac. rMBPs over old MBPs, etc.

    I doubt there will be a day anytime soon when we all get bored w/ our iPhones and toss them in the bin. 10 years later Apple is no closer to DOOOM despite the concern trolls from Day 1. When the Next Big Thing is here, Apple will surely be a part of it. They have more money than god stockpiled, which will assist them for decades to come.

    Ironically, Apple is touted as one example of how to run a company -- by "delighting the customer" and NOT pandering to Wall Street. So I think your claim there is pretty off-target too. 

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/11/28/maximizing-shareholder-value-the-dumbest-idea-in-the-world/
    edited January 9 suddenly newtonpscooter63netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    Each employee got one too.
    edited January 9
  • Reply 17 of 18
    dysamoria said:

    All I see now is Wall Street games and a company "lead" by MBA mindsets and Peter-Principle executives (Ive, especially). It's not the company that convinced me to abandon PC/Windows for Mac in 2008.
    Is it now the company that convinced you to abandon Mac for PC/ Windows? I sincerely hope so. We'd have less of your whining here then (hopefully)!
    netmagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    Today reminds me of Steve Ballmer's comments back in 2007, along with others who thought the iPhone would fail.
    While I've owned every iPhone, I especially loved the original model, because it was unlike anything else at the time. It felt like it brought the future to the present.
    Can't wait for the iPhone 8!
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