Apple has reached an astonishing milestone. The California-based company has sold its one billionth iPhone, just over nine years after its first model went on sale back in June 2007.
“Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone,” said CEO Tim Cook in a statement. “We never set out to make the most, but we’ve always set out to make the best products that make a difference.”
It’s hard to picture it now, but this time ten years ago, the iPhone wasn’t even an official product. Apple was hard at work in secret on prototypes, later revealed in court documents when Samsung argued in court that the iPhone borrowed designs from other companies. The device pictured has similarities to the older iPod mini (announced January 2004), but still retains some of the more familiar features that would make it into the phone when it was revealed in January 2007.
The idea for the iPhone may stretch back even further than that. Thomas Ross, a man from Florida, decided to sue Apple last month after claiming that he patented an iPhone-like device back in 1992. Did Apple steal from Ross? Judge for yourself:
So there’s some dispute over who invented the iPhone when, but the wider public only learned about the phone when Steve Jobs took to the stage at the 2007 Macworld convention. Rumors were rife that Apple was about to enter the mobile market properly — ignoring 2005’s weird Motorola/iTunes mashup phone, the Rokr, pictured below.
When Jobs announced the iPhone, the first all-Apple mobile phone, he described it as three devices in one: an iPod, a phone, and an internet communication device. Those three principles have stayed with every iPhone since launch.
Reviews of the first iPhone picked holes in missing features: no MMS, no 3G, a weird recessed headphone jack that only fitted certain headphone types. These were all slowly rectified over the years, and the fundamentals that Apple got right stayed the same. These days, most phones are giant touchscreens, but when the iPhone first launched, it was something of an oddity.
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the iPhone’s introduction, when Apple is expected to radically shake up the phone’s design with the iPhone 8. Considering how different the iPhone 6s looks to the original model, it’ll be interesting to see just how different Apple’s next billion phones will look.