Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future.

original-iphone
The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed device like the iPod, or an open platform like the Mac, a discussion that Schiller said was ultimately "shut down" by then-CEO Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs shut down the discussion, Schiller recalls. “He said ‘We don’t have to keep debating this because we can’t have [an open system] right now. Maybe we’ll change our mind afterwards, or maybe we won’t, but for now there isn’t one so let’s envision this world where we solve the problem with great built-in apps and a way for developers to make web apps.”

Levy suggested that the iPhone's great moment was when the App Store launched a year later, creating a world where for "every imaginable activity" there was "an app for that." Schiller, perhaps unsurprisingly as Apple's marketing chief, said that belief undermines how truly "earth-shattering" the iPhone was at the time.

“That undervalues how earth-shattering the iPhone was when it first came to market, and we all first got them and fell in love with them,” he says. “iPhone made the idea of a smartphone real. It really was a computer in your pocket. The idea of real internet, real web browser, Multi-Touch. There were so many things that are core to what is the smartphone today, that created a product that customers fell in love with, that then also demanded more stuff on them, more apps.”

iphone-full-lineup
Nowadays, some critics are wondering whether Apple is playing it safe as of late, arguing that recent iPhone models have only incremental improvements rather than revolutionary new features. But, again, Schiller downplayed this notion and said the changes in more recent iPhones are "sometimes even bigger now."

“I actually think the leaps in the later versions are as big and sometimes even bigger now,” he says. “I think our expectations are changing more, not the leaps in the products. If you look through every version—from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G to the 4 to the 4S, you see great changes all throughout. You see screen size change from three and a half inch to four inch to four point seven and five point five. You see cameras going through incredible change, from the first camera that couldn’t shoot video, to then having both a front and a backside camera, to now three cameras with the stuff we’re doing, and with live photos and 4K video.”

Schiller positioned the iPhone as a top smartphone. "The quality is unmatched. The ease of use is still unmatched. The integration of hardware software is unmatched. We’re not about the cheapest, we’re not about the most, we’re about the best."

In a press release yesterday, Schiller said Apple is "just getting started" with the iPhone, while CEO Tim Cook promised "the best is yet to come." Building upon those comments, Schiller told Levy that he hopes in 50 years, people will indeed look back and realize how much was yet to come.

Schiller hopes that 50 years people will look back at this point and say, “Wow, they didn’t realize how much was to come — in fact, others missed it because they were busy running around looking for other things. Everyone has their opinions at this point, but it could be that we’re only in the first minutes of the first quarter of the game,” he says. “I believe this product is so great that it has many years of innovation ahead.”

Levy, however, went on to question "whether a pocket-sized device like the iPhone will still be as relevant decades hence," particularly as "a lot of observers have been saying we are at the start of the era of the conversational interface."

amazon-alexa
At CES last week, for example, a number of reputable publications said Amazon's Alexa platform "stole the show" or offered similar accolades, after companies showed off everything from new cars and robots to fridges and laundry machines integrated with the voice-controlled assistant, which launched in late 2014.

Apple itself had an early lead in this artificial intelligence space when it debuted Siri on the iPhone 4s in 2011.

Schiller opined that "the best intelligent assistant is the one that's with you all the time," such as the iPhone. Schiller added that "people are forgetting the value and importance of the display," which he said is "not going to go away."

“I'm so glad the team years ago set out to create Siri — I think we do more with that conversational interface that anyone else. Personally, I still think the best intelligent assistant is the one that’s with you all the time. Having my iPhone with me as the thing I speak to is better than something stuck in my kitchen or on a wall somewhere.”

“People are forgetting the value and importance of the display,” he says. “Some of the greatest innovations on iPhone over the last ten years have been in display. Displays are not going to go away. We still like to take pictures and we need to look at them, and a disembodied voice is not going to show me what the picture is.”

Full-Length Article: Phil Schiller on iPhone’s Launch, How It Changed Apple, and Why It Will Keep Going for 50 Years

Top Rated Comments

Paul Dawkins Avatar
54 months ago
Unmatched? Is he taking the piss?
Score: 84 Votes (Like | Disagree)
v0lume4 Avatar
54 months ago
Schiller is right about the "earth-shattering" comment. However, he is no longer right about "unmatched."

The iPhone is still incredible. But everyone else has caught up.
Score: 81 Votes (Like | Disagree)
robjulo Avatar
54 months ago
Schiller and Cook....all talk, no products.
Score: 76 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nt5672 Avatar
54 months ago
Unmatched, this is exactly what is wrong with Apple today. They think just because it says "Apple" on the box that it is innovative and unmatched. What a crock.
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
54 months ago
Phil sounds like a retired auto mechanic boasting about how good he was at fixing carburetors.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
54 months ago
"I'm so glad the team years ago set out to create Siri -- I think we do more with that conversational interface that anyone else..."

I'm a bit confused by this part of his quote. Is he somehow giving credit to Apple for creating Siri or is he giving credit to the team of devs that actually created Siri? If it's the latter, okay. Those guys did do nice work. If it's the former, then revising history is probably not the best way to make a point.

Doing more with conversational interface than anyone else? Uh, the Siri app was more functional before Apple acquired the dev team. Just my opinion, but no, Apple is not doing more than anyone else. Heck, the original dev team's new Viv is testimony that Apple isn't doing more than anyone else.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models With HDMI Port and SD Card Reader to Launch Later This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 8:52 pm PST by
Apple plans to release two new MacBook Pro models equipped with an HDMI port and SD card reader in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who outlined his expectations in a research note obtained by MacRumors. The return of an SD card reader was first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman last month. "We predict that Apple's two new MacBook Pro models in 2H21 will have...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...
iphone 12 pro display video

BOE Rumored to Supply iPhone 13 Display Panels After iPhone 12 Failures

Monday February 22, 2021 9:54 am PST by
Display manufacturer BOE will be one of the main suppliers of OLED panels for iPhone 13 models, according to a new report today from Taiwan's Economic Daily News. BOE is said to be working with touch panel manufacturer General Interface Solution (GIS), part of the Hon Hai Group to develop OLED panels. Multiple iPhone 12 rumors suggested that BOE would supply some panels for the devices,...
mac security privacy

Apple Takes Step to Prevent Further Spread of 'Silver Sparrow' Malware on Macs

Monday February 22, 2021 6:13 am PST by
Over the weekend, we reported on the second known piece of malware compiled to run natively on M1 Macs. Given the name "Silver Sparrow," the malicious package is said to leverage the macOS Installer JavaScript API to execute suspicious commands. After observing the malware for over a week, however, security firm Red Canary did not observe any final payload, so the exact threat to users remains a...
jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
whatsapp privacy banner

WhatsApp Reveals What Happens to Users Who Don't Agree to Upcoming Privacy Policy Changes

Sunday February 21, 2021 1:11 am PST by
WhatsApp has revealed how it will gradually limit the features available to accounts held by users who do not accept the platform's impending privacy policy changes, due to come into effect on May 15. WhatsApp's new banner explaining the privacy policy changes According to an email seen by TechCrunch to one of its merchant partners, WhatsApp said it will "slowly ask" users who have not yet...
new airpods leaked image 52audios

Alleged Leaked Image Claims to Show Third-Generation AirPods and Case

Sunday February 21, 2021 2:49 am PST by
A new image claims to offer our first real world look at Apple's next-generation AirPods. The image, shared by 52audio, showcases both AirPods and the charging case for what the site claims to be the third iteration of the wireless earbuds. 52audio has in the past shared images claiming to showcase different parts of the third-generation AirPods. Most notably, the site in November shared...
anker magsafe powercore battery pack

Anker Releases MagSafe-Compatible Battery Pack for iPhone 12 Lineup

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:49 am PST by
Following rumors that Apple is working on a MagSafe battery pack for iPhone 12 models, popular accessory maker Anker has beaten Apple to the punch with the release of its PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless Power Bank. First previewed at CES 2021, the PowerCore battery pack magnetically attaches to the back of any iPhone 12 model and provides 5W of wireless charging. With a 5,000 mAh capacity,...
iPad Pro Mini LED

New iPad Pro and MacBook Models With Mini-LED Displays Again Rumored to Launch This Year

Monday February 22, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Taiwanese company Ennostar will begin production of Mini-LED backlight units for an upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the late first quarter or second quarter of this year, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. Ennostar is a holding company that was jointly established in January 2021 by LED-related manufacturers Epistar and Lextar Electronics. Apple is expected to unveil the new ...
14

iOS 14.5 to Make Zero-Click Attacks 'Significantly Harder'

Monday February 22, 2021 9:05 am PST by
Apple's impending iOS and iPadOS 14.5 update will make zero-click attacks considerably more difficult by extending PAC security provisions, according to Motherboard. Apple has made a change to the way in which it secures its code in the latest betas of iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 to make zero-click attacks much harder. The change, spotted by security researchers, has now been confirmed by...