Well, this is because there were no apps. It's was a brand new platform!
> Mr. Jobs seemed to understand the iPhone as something that would help us with a small number of activities — listening to music, placing calls, generating directions. He didn’t seek to radically change the rhythm of users’ daily lives.
Jobs didn't die after presenting the iPhone in 2007 though. He passed away in 2011, well into the "there's an app for that" ad campaign that boasted how the iPhone could in fact radically change the rhythm of users' daily lives.
> The full Safari engine is inside of iPhone. And so, you can write amazing Web 2.0 and Ajax apps that look exactly and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone. And these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services. They can make a call, they can send an email, they can look up a location on Google Maps.
> And guess what? There’s no SDK that you need! You’ve got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today. So developers, we think we’ve got a very sweet story for you. You can begin building your iPhone apps today.
I remember a lot of jokes in the Mac developer community at the time about what a "sweet story" this was. It seemed like the public SDK was a response to jailbreak apps being more popular than the intended "iPhone Web apps."
...but then I don't know, I wasn't there.
"Steve first talked about application development for iPhone at the same keynote I was demonstrating the new ID Tech 5 rendering engine on Mac, so I was in the front row. When he started going on about 'Web Apps', I was (reasonably quietly) going 'Booo!!!'."
Apple's original position on third party apps was that they deserved on the web, in what would eventually become known as "progressive web app" form. That position was abandoned not just because it was a mediocre user experience, but also, it actually prevented device lock-in, which is something Jobs obviously craved.
You can argue that some apps are time-sucks, or bad for your overall well-being, and I'll be right there with you. But that has relatively little to do with whether they're shitty web apps or native code apps.
And also, the fact that smartphones do way more than originally imagined is a great thing. In most parts of the world, I can pull out my phone, tap a few characters, and a car will magically pull up where I am and take me wherever I need to go. Or bring me food. I can translate anything to anything. I know the second a flight is delayed, which lets me be more present in life. My life is assuredly better because my smartphone is turing-complete and runs third party software.
To add some necessary context, Apple's position on almost everything is "what we are currently doing is best" (and from that "what our competitors are doing is wrong" or "what you wish it did is wrong"). Building a whole native development platform, curation system, etc, is a massive undertaking, so with the first device Jobs unsurprisingly pitched their current state as ideal. And as they adopted new choices, those became the new ideal. Any who read too much into Jobs various sentiments that could best be expressed as sales pitches might be going astray.
"We haven't figured out third party app curation yet" might have been accurate, but not in Apple's style to admit.
Developers demanded native apps and the “sweet solution” of web apps was derided as being a “shit sandwich” by commentators at the time.
Also, around the same time that the iPhone was introduced, the music industry wanted Apple to license FairPlay. Steve Jobs posted the famous “Thoughts on Music” essay to Apple’s home page saying that if the music industry wanted interoperability, just allow Apple and every other digital music seller to sell DRM free music.
I have heard that his kids didn't use iPads in the early days, but I never heard what the reason is (nor do I know how old they were at the time). I'd be curious to know who has tied this behavior to addictiveness, and whether anyone knows how old they were when this was said.
Sometimes people like to latch onto facts like "Tim Cook doesn't let his nephew use an iOS device" without indicating how old the kid is. I would react very differently if execs were withholding these devices from 15 year olds than from 4 year olds.
Busy man, he allegedly also kept himself away from his own children. The first one - Lisa - certainly did not get stock options. It was only after the intervention of a judge that he began to assist her financially.
At the risk of romanticizing: from what I've read, he wasn't about creating brand-new concepts, he was all about taking existing concepts and turning them into what people really wanted them to be.
Lastly, I think the author gives Apple and Steve Jobs far too much credit. Apps didn't become successful on these platforms because of app vendors, they became successful because people started asking "what else can I do with this phone?" People _want_ to constantly feel "in the loop" and "productive."
I'm also not convinced that just because Steve Jobs pitched something one way in a presentation so that the audience would understand what the device meant, meant that he didn't see a large vision of an always-on, internet-enabled device.
The Blackberry was the peak of efficient, minimal phone usage:
* It optimized for doing things like short letter and message writing well through the keyboard.
* Blackberry messenger still leads in terms of features that can reduce noise: appear offline and availability settings, friends lists.
* It focused on productivity applications, screen size kept browsing to "as needed".
As a Canadian, I remember when the iPhone started to take over. My friends were sitting around playing Paper Toss, meanwhile my berry sat quietly in my pocket.
I still miss the keyboard. I miss being able to write longer emails on the bus/subway without stumbling on predictive text.
I miss that the little flashing indicator light on the device that told me that I have mail.
The BlackBerry was good at the things it was good at, but that was also the reason it couldn't grow beyond that. It was a specialist, and specialists by definition have more limited appeal than generalists. The keyboard was pleasure to use but it also halved the screen real estate and had to be customized to each geography (e.g. non-QWERTY keyboard layouts).
It did a lot of things amazingly well that I still crave today.
However the lackluster and slow web browser kept it from being "Smart" - especially with poor app support.
> The presentation confirms that Mr. Jobs envisioned a simpler and more constrained iPhone experience than the one we actually have over a decade later.
Having actually seen the video years ago, this article strikes me as a big mischaracterization of what Jobs said -- let alone envisioned, which only Jobs would know.
I don't remember the exact quote, but in the first couple minutes of the video, Jobs introduces the talk saying iPhone is going to revolutionize three industries by combining an iPod, a phone, and internet communication device.
Jobs was fully aware it was going to be huge for those three reasons combined. Had he not envisioned it was about having the internet in your pocket, he'd have stopped at it being an iPod that can place phone calls.
With that being said, it's a refreshing article. Most articles on Steve Jobs focus on how visionary he was, how he was predicting everything etc. This one is stating that, he was a human after all, just like us, and that the future is notoriously hard to imagine and predict. Nassim Taleb would agree :)
Steve had a fondness for completely circumscribed ecosystems and "computers as appliances" which I don't think he ever totally let go of, despite innovation and market demands showing obvious benefits to users being able to expand the capabilities of their own devices.
Steve was forced out of the Lisa group more than 2 years before the Lisa shipped, so it's a stretch to infer a "no third-party applications" intent on Steve's part based on that.
Also, Lisa Workshop allowed for third-party application development and shipped alongside Lisa Office System (IIRC). Are you saying that it was possible to develop applications for the Lisa but not run them? (I honestly don't know, but that seems unlikely.)
> Steve had a fondness for completely circumscribed ecosystems and "computers as appliances"…
You may be thinking of Jef Raskin, who originally envisioned Macintosh as a "computer appliance". Steve's vision for Macintosh was much different than Jef's, and Apple actively courted third-party developers during its development.
I suspect we would have gotten to the present-day norm eventually either way; but, if not for “OS X in your pocket”, the iPhone might have wound up in the same historic dustbin as the Newton, the Palm, and the Sidekick, a mere precursor rather than the thin end of a revolutionary wedge.
That's because, IIRC, he was doing a dramatic reveal where each set of features was discussed separately (iPod, cell phone, internet navigator). The fact that this section came last doesn't mean Jobs thought it was less important. In fact, it was arguably the most impressive part (iPods already existed, as did cell phones, but there were no good touch-screen internet-enabled devices). That's probably why it was last.
I understand the desire for a backlash on smartphones, but their ubiquity is simply a demonstration of just how much utility we derive from them.
Despite the "cheap" headline and arguments you could make of his narrow interpretation of Jobs' introduction of the iPhone, Newport's broader points IMHO should still be recognized and are important to be heard.
For some, these gadgets are crack cocaine.
Things exploded quite a bit post-iPhone, but it's a mistake to say they didn't exist at all.
He didn´t do it. We did.
We all did..
Notice how many times Apple has used the motto "the best iStuff since iStuff." It worked better several years ago, but they always claim their current thing is the Platonic ideal of its category.