Uh yeah it does actually lol. The very fact that companies were putting out devices that consumers were responding positively to is enough to show things would naturally have progressed to where they are today.
It's not that far fetched that Apple saw where things were going, and formulated their gen 1 iphone around it.
It gets a little confusing because this argument always goes from "Apple did it first" to "Apple did it better, first" and in either case, people always try to convince me that without Apple, we would all be using RAZRs or something.
Let me just ask you this: Do you truly think the idea of a touch screen phone NEVER crossed the minds of the people over at Google as they poured money into R&D for Android? Your answer to this question will influence my opinion of you from here on out
This is the age old debate of "individuals matter -- there are certain Great People who have big effects on the course of events" vs "individuals don't matter -- the path of history is inevitable, and the relevance of individuals is an illusion". As usual, I think truth is somewhere in between. I think there are a lot of "false idols" out there -- people who are characterized as great individuals (or great companies) in the sense that they had some big effect that they didn't really have.
But I also think there are individuals (either people or organizations) that really do matter -- that make things substantially different than they would have otherwise been. I think Steve Jobs as a person, and Apple as a company, are genuine examples of that phenomenon. As we all know, the GUI was developed at PARC and was languishing because powerful but clueless people at Xerox did not see what was in front of them. As we all know, it took Microsoft 10 years to catch up to Apple, and that was with the competitive pressure from Apple. If there was no Apple and no Steve Jobs then there could have been a very meaningful delay in the arrival of computing as we now know it. And sure, one can resort to the argument that it would have *eventually* have happened, but a delay of 10 years has real consequences for a lot of people -- making a major contribution 10 years earlier than later makes a big difference.
You can also see examples in other contexts. What if in October 2001 the US president decided to spend $1 trillion on achieving energy independence instead of $1 trillion on war? Whether you think that would have been a good decision or a bad decision, there is no doubt in my mind that it would have been a very DIFFERENT decision than the one that was made, and that (for better or for worse), we would be living in a very different world than we live in today. My goal here is not to start a political fight -- I can imagine arguments for why it's better to spend $1 trillion on war and arguments for why it's better to spend $1 trillion on energy independence -- but one thing that is clear, is that those are very different decisions, and so the individual who makes that decision has the potential to profoundly influence things. Sure, you can argue that 100 years from now, it's inevitable that we'll end up doing X, Y, or Z --- but how quickly we get there, and how we get there, matters tremendously to a lot of people. To ignore that, and to glibly argue that "oh, eventually, in the long run, we would have ended up in the same place", is just plain silly, in my view.