Eight years ago today, Apple launched the iPhone

Today eight years ago, the original iPhone went on sale in the United States after a 6-month period of unprecedented hype triggered by its January 9, 2007 introduction. Like most other Apple products were panned as duds but went on to become smash hits, the Apple smartphone was universally dismissed.

When it launched all those years ago, the iPhone was an exclusive device for the Big Blue carrier AT&T in the United States. It was tied to a two-year contract with a price tag of $599. Apple would eventually drop the price, though, marking it down to $399 on a new, two-year agreement. Compare that to the $199 price tag that most devices get these days, including iPhones. The original iPhone would launch in Ireland, Austria, France, Portugal, Germany, and the United Kingdom in November of the same year.

The iPhone lineup has expanded quite a bit in eight years, with Apple launching 10 models in that time. That includes the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5S, and most recently, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Doomsayers notwithstanding, the device went on to sell hundreds of millions of units worldwide (726 million units to date, to be precise), becoming the de facto gold standard for smartphones. And while the iPhone is now common sight in all corners of the globe, its beauty isn’t that it invented, but re-invented the hopelessly-out-of-touch (to quote T-Mobile CEO) industry.

It gave the sleepy, self-absorbed wireless carriers—and handset makers, their partners in crime—a much needed kick in their butt for not listening to consumers’ needs at all. Sure, there were smartphones before the iPhone but they looked like they were designed by committees (which they actually were) and one needed a user manual to master them.

There were phones with touchscreens before the iPhone but none implemented the sensation and immediacy of touch so elegantly and seamlessly as Apple’s device. There were also mobile app stores, of sorts, before the App Store. But none has offered the ease of use and instant gratification of tapping a colorful icon to have an app arrive wirelessly on your Home screen.

The original iPhone was available exclusively on AT&T in the United States and ran on the carrier’s sluggish EDGE data network. Back then, Apple stock sold for a measly $17.43.

Although Apple did allow developers from the onset to write web apps that ran in the iPhone’s Safari browser, the experience left a lot to be desired and it wouldn’t be until the App Store came along that mobile apps would become a cultural phenomenon like no other.

Nowadays carriers don’t wield absolute power as they used to. User experience and great design matter again. Nowadays tens of thousands of young people write mobile software, apps are everywhere and people have the freedom of choosing between iOS, Windows Phone, Android, BlackBerry and other mobile platforms.

Superficial reviewers who aim for clickbait have slammed the Apple Watch because they were too lazy to take the time to realize how to set up and customize notifications hitting their wrist.

And if history of the iPhone is anything to go by, native app development will help the Apple Watch take off in a big way just as the App Store has catapulted the iPhone into being the most sought-after device Apple has ever created.

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