It had us at "Hello": The iPhone turns 10

CUPERTINO (CBS NEWS) – Ten years ago, the iPhone arrived in stores — and the world was never the same.

Because of the iPhone, we now take it for granted that we’re on the Internet all of the time. Because of the iPhone, we have everything from an old Radio Shack ad in our pockets: Computer, calculator, camcorder, alarm clock, phone, music player, answering machine, and tape recorder.

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Because of the iPhone, hardly anyone buys maps anymore, or pocket cameras, or watches. But long before we became a nation of distracted drivers, distracted walkers, and distracted dinner companions, cell phones were clunky. The Blackberry was king. And Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was working in complete secrecy at the company’s California Headquarters on a device that would soon change.

In January 2007, Jobs took the stage to unveil it: “An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. … Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone.”

That iPhone wouldn’t actually go on sale for another six months. During that time, nobody outside Apple was allowed to see the phone or touch the phone.

The hype machine went into overdrive, especially after 40 million viewers saw this commercial on that year’s Oscar broadcast:

A year after the iPhone came out, Apple introduced the App Store, a central catalogue of free or cheap little programs written by programmers all over the world. That’s when iPhone sales really went through the stratosphere.

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And just those apps have launched entire industries! Think of Uber, the ride-sharing company valued at $68 billion. Or Instagram, which Facebook bought in 2012 for a billion dollars.

These days, of course, the iPhone isn’t the only game in town. In 2008, Google created a look-alike phone design called Android, which it gives away to phonemakers. Today, Android phones outsell the iPhone.

So on its tenth birthday it’s time to ask, where does iPhone fall on the scale of humanity’s greatest inventions? Is it right up there with the television? The car? Electricity? Fire? Hard to say, but millions of people would agree, the iPhone changed everything.

“We don’t have Steve Jobs around to ask — we would all be getting interviews with him right now because of the tenth anniversary — but I don’t think that he foresaw the hugeness of it,” Walt Mossberg, executive editor of The Verge said. “I don’t think anybody did.”


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