I think it’s safe to say, without a hint of irony, that 10 years ago this week, Steve Jobs walked on stage and made an announcement that changed the world when he introduced the iPhone on January 9, 2007.
It was June before we saw the first phones enter the market, and another year still until the debut of the App Store — an idea that was also revolutionary at the time, but that touch screen phone with built-in storage and internet connectivity was about to change our lives in ways we couldn't possibly imagine.
In fact, five months earlier, Amazon debuted what would come to be known as Infrastructure as a Service, when AWS released the first beta of EC2, its "elastic compute" service. As for SaaS vendors, Salesforce had debuted in January of 1999, almost exactly eight years prior. Box was a two year old online consumer storage service, and it would be two years before it pivoted to the enterprise. There were plenty of examples of online services, but we didn't even refer to them as cloud services.
In those early days, AWS used "web services" in its name, because the web was the driver back then, and everything was based in the browser. People didn't think of taking out their phones to perform a variety of tasks because there really wasn't a mechanism for doing that.
Up until this point, cell phones, were literally phones. You could do some basic stuff on them — phone calls, of course, text messaging and some rudimentary tasks — but for the most part phones were not internet-powered computers in our pockets, not by a long shot.
Even though we didn't know it, when the app store was announced, it was the beginning of changing all of that, and introducing a cloud-connected set of services. You have to remember state of the art for businesses in 2007 was the BlackBerry, that solid, secure phone with a built-in keyboard for easy messaging on the go.
When BlackBerry ruled the world
To put it into perspective, in December 2009, two years after the release of the iPhone, comScore reported that RIM, makers of BlackBerry was still firmly in control of the US market with 41.6 percent share. Apple had 25.3 percent. Google was barely on the radar yet.
Courtesy of comScore
By December, 2011 RIM was down to 16 percent, Apple had 29.6 percent and Android had taken firm control with 47.3 percent share.
Courtesy of comScore
We knew none of this in January of 2007. We just saw Jobs trying to work his marketing magic to introduce his company's latest gizmo. A year later, I would hear the term "cloud computing" for the first time. As companies began developing apps and putting them into the app store, the cloud began to matter, whether we knew it or not.
That was partly because the phone had limited storage. The cloud could compensate with virtually unlimited resources. It also meant that you could access that information wherever you happened to be. You didn't need your laptop or the beige box under your desk. You could take out your phone, open an app and access your stuff. It brought the internet into our pockets.
That changed how we think about work and where we could work. It pushed the development of cloud services in ways we couldn't possibly dream of in January, 2007. Instead of the browser being the center of our world, these apps could access information easily and quickly because of cloud services, and open up never before conceived business models.
Today, we take the power of the mobile-cloud connection for granted, but back in 2007 we couldn't possibly have known the impact it would have on our world — or that it all was beginning with that first iPhone.
Photo: m.caimary. Used under CC by 2.0 Attribution license.