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The Day Steve Jobs Gave Us The iPhone

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2024 3:02 am

The Day Steve Jobs Gave Us The iPhone

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 15, 2024 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, on January 9, 2007, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs—already a legendary pitchman—put on what many consider the best business presentation in corporate history. Jobs unveiled a new product that would cement Apple’s comeback.

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See website for details. And we continue with Our American Stories. And to search for the Our American Stories podcast, go to the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Up next, a story about an American product that was released not so long ago, one you might be listening to this show on right now. Well, this product, it changed the world. It changed everything.

Let's take a listen. On January 9th, 2007, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, already a legendary pitchman, put on what many consider the best business presentation in corporate history. Here's technology commentator Charlie Brown. Steve Jobs was a master at teasing new technology to people. And everyone turned up to Macworld thinking they were seeing a new iPod or a new Mac. He was showing them something vastly different, something new and something that was going to change the world.

And he did it like the master that he was. This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and a half years. At the Macworld conference in San Francisco, Jobs built up the narrative before he even mentioned a new product. Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. 1984, we introduced the Macintosh. It didn't just change Apple, it changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod.

And it didn't just change the way we all listen to music, it changed the entire music industry. Well, today, we're introducing three revolutionary products of this class. Jobs was famous for adding one more thing at the end of his keynotes. In his 2007 iPhone presentation, he put the twist at the beginning. The following excerpt is the most viewed and maybe the most memorable part of the iPhone presentation. The first one is a wide screen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device.

So, three things. An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. An iPod, a phone.

Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone. Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.

Every great story has a villain or a conflict in need of a resolution. In the 2007 iPhone keynote, Jobs showed several competing smartphones and pointed out their weaknesses and then showed how the iPhone solved all their issues. Now, here's four smartphones, right? Motorola Q, the Blackberry, Palm Treo, Nokia E62, the usual suspects.

And the problem with them is really sort of in the bottom 40 there. They all have these keyboards that are there whether you need them or not to be there. And they all have these control buttons that are fixed in plastic and are the same for every application. Well, every application wants a slightly different user interface, a slightly optimized set of buttons just for it.

And what happens if you think of a great idea six months from now? You can't run around and add a button to these things. They're already shipped. Well, how do you solve this? It turns out we have solved it. We solved it in computers 20 years ago. We solved it with a bitmap screen that could display anything we want, put any user interface up. And a pointing device. We solved it with the mouse, right?

We solved this problem. So how are we going to take this to a mobile device? Well, what we're going to do is get rid of all these buttons and just make a giant screen.

A giant screen. Now, how are we going to communicate this? We don't want to carry around a mouse, right?

So what are we going to do? Oh, a stylus, right? We're going to use a stylus.

No. Who wants a stylus? You have to get them and put them away and you lose them.

Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus. So let's not use a stylus. We're going to use the best pointing device in the world. We're going to use a pointing device that we're all born with. We're born with ten of them.

We're going to use our fingers. It's easy to forget how funny Jobs could be on stage. His iPhone launch presentation elicited a laugh from the audience 51 times. Here's one of those times during the iPhone Maps pitch. Starbucks. So I'm going to search for Starbucks and sure enough, there's all the Starbucks. Now, I can get a list of Starbucks here so I can pick that one if I want and I can even go look at that Starbucks. And there it is and let's give them a call. Good morning. Yes, I'd like to order 4000 lattes to go, please. No, just kidding. Wrong number.

Thank you. Today, we look back and it all looks so easy. But the launch of one of the best selling products of all time was expected by many to go disastrously wrong and take Apple's fortunes along with it. Here's iPhone co-creator Andy Grignon every single time he touched the screen. We're waiting for the music to stop playing. We're waiting for the browser to just go white.

I mean, there's all sorts of things that we knew could happen. I've got playlists here. I'm going to my playlist. I've got artists.

I've got songs. The stress level is through the roof. You've never seen behind stage a more angsty, miserable group of people. Jobs' team is stressed for good reason. Up until this point, the iPhone had never made it without a glitch through all the trial tests and practice presentations. We had a very careful path.

It was called the golden path that Steve had to follow. He had to do exactly these things in exactly this order. And if he didn't, it could crash. What the audience didn't know was to avoid these crashes, there are several iPhones in Jobs' lectern with Jobs discreetly switching between them. It would take a magician to figure out how he did it.

Here's magician Penn Jillette. He was doing switches. He would switch one iPhone for the other so he could show off different apps when they actually couldn't change. But even with the multiple hidden iPhones, Andy Grignan and his team of engineers who watched backstage expected the worst.

Grignan came prepared, especially for that grand finale crank call to Starbucks. I could play with this for a long time. I just anticipated all this going wrong. So on my drive, I brought with me a bottle of scotch. And what we decided to do is every one of us who was responsible for a certain part of the demo, whether it was playing some music, showing the maps, whoever was responsible for that part would take a shot.

Problem was, I'd been involved for all of them. By the time Steve does the big finale, I'm completely wasted. He's got at this point maps going. There's paused music.

All the software is lit up on this phone. So I'm going to search for Starbucks. And sure enough, there's all the Starbucks. Things could go just absolutely sideways. And I can even go look at that Starbucks. And there it is.

And let's give him a call. Maybe the whole thing was just going to just go black and then restart. We didn't know. It was the first time any of us as a group saw just a perfect demo.

I mean, we'd never seen the whole thing go off without a hitch. Five months after Steve Jobs' presentation, as customers waited in line for days, the iPhone hit the shelves in the United States. The device is still Apple's most important product in their arsenal of cultural and technological must-have items. Today's app economy is bigger than Hollywood. And WhatsApp, Snapchat, Uber, Tinder and more are essential parts of modern culture, collectively used by hundreds of millions of people every day. But before the iPhone, none of that existed.

And great work as always. And thanks to the folks at Hillsdale College who, by the way, teach things like the fact that intellectual property rights, well, they're in the Constitution and they're in Article 1. And this innovation is not possible without that. And what free enterprise does for the world and for human progress. By the way, that clapping you kept hearing, that was not your typical corporate meeting and corporate launch, was it, folks? On this day in history, in 2007, the iPhone is launched and changed the world. This is Our American Stories.

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