Minority Report: A little perspective on the iPhone

Hindsight is always 20:20
Written by Seb Janacek, Contributor

Hindsight is always 20:20

Looking back at how it all began: Seb Janacek reminisces how the iPhone wasn't always such a sure thing

I love hoarding snippets of information and obscure bookmarks that I rarely end up using again. Since the advent of social bookmarking and tagging my data lets me create order from chaos.

In recent years, I've also used a great little application called Yojimbo to store and tag websites, recipes, ideas and pretty much anything else.

This morning, I was looking through older info snippets stored on the app and stumbled across an old article clipped from Fortune in late 2006, a few months before the launch of the iPhone in January 2007.

'Three reasons an iPhone could actually suck' was a good article and considered the three biggest barriers to success apparent at the time for an Apple mobile phone - a device which had yet to be confirmed by the company.

Firstly, it suggested the control US carriers had over the marketplace meant Apple would struggle to sell the iPhone on its own terms, with the company forced to lessen control over the way it marketed the phone.

Secondly, it said the additional control carriers exerted over the user interfaces of handset manufacturers would be a tough compromise for Apple to swallow. Historically, carriers insisted their logo appeared prominently during start-up and links to their 'value adding' mobile content littered menus. A company like Apple with such a fanatical focus on user experience wouldn't sit for others dipping their oars or, God forbid, their logos into their interfaces.

Finally, it questioned whether the company would be able to carve a profit out of the crowded marketplace.

With the benefit of perspective, it's like rereading a pre-match review for an unfancied football team playing away against one of the European superpowers with the knowledge that they actually trounced them three-nil on the night. We all know how this turned out.

But one thing the story does get right is that the biggest innovation about the iPhone won't be the device itself but the way it "crafted partnerships in a way that it could keep control of the customer experience, and still manage a profit".

Don't get me wrong, I think it was a good piece and I think I saved it because I agreed with most of the ideas. But today, it's just another yardstick to measure Apple's success in sweeping aside the old hegemonies.

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