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10 memorable iPhone facts on its 10th anniversary

When Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at a keynote address at the Macworld Convention in San Francisco’s Moscone West conference center a decade ago today, he promised the company would “reinvent the phone.” That he fulfilled his promise is hard to dispute.

A gigantic black Apple logo was displayed in the center of the stage, backlit as if it were a solar eclipse to emphasize the dramatic nature of the announcement. Jobs, clad as always in a black turtleneck and jeans, could barely contain his glee, telling the crowd that “this is a day that I have been looking forward to for two-and-a-half years.”   

To commemorate that solar eclipse of a tech gadget announcement, here are 10 memorable facts about the iPhone.

1) Jobs had some fun during the rollout, showing the audience a picture of a white iPod with a rotary dial after describing the iPhone as a “revolutionary product.” The assembled audience of Apple fans soon got the joke, and the rest is history.

2) The Apple co-founder told the crowd Apple was planning to introduce three “revolutionary devices” -- a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device. When Jobs told them that all these features would be in a single gadget, the crowd broke into a thunderous round of applause.

3) At the time, the smartphone market was dominated by Nokia and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, whose devices featured QWERTY keyboards found on PCs and at times required the use of a stylus. Jobs correctly figured consumers could do without those on the iPhone. Existing smartphones “are not so smart or easy to use,” Jobs noted at the time, promising that the iPhone would “leapfrog” over the competition.

4) Nokia and RIM have fallen on hard times in the years since the dawn of the iPhone. Finland-based Nokia told its hardware business to Microsoft (MSFT) for $7.2 billion in 2013. The software giant, however, had second thoughts about the mobile phone business and sold it last year to Foxconn’s FIH Mobile and HMD Global for $350 million. RIM, now called BlackBerry (BBRY), has seen its market value shrink from more than $80 billion in 2008 to $3.8 billion today. The Canadian company last year decided to outsource its phone production.

5) The media at the time was skeptical about Jobs’ claims. An article in TechCrunch bluntly predicted that the iPhone would “bomb,” while Ad Age argued it would be a “major disappointment.” Bloomberg’s Matthew Lynn added: “The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks.” Microsoft’s  then-CEO Steve Ballmer was the biggest naysayer of all, famously declaring: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”

6) During the introduction, Jobs made the first public phone call on an iPhone to Jonny Ive, the company’s chief designer. Ive’s current status at Apple is a matter of some debate among Apple watchers, with some speculating he’s focusing more on architecture than product design, a notion the company hasn’t publicly addressed.

7) Apple has delivered more than 1 billion iPhones since its introduction. The devices account for more than 60 percent of the Cupertino, California, company’s annual sales, a dependence that concerns Wall Street since newer products such as the iPad and Apple Watch haven’t matched the iPhone’s popularity.

8) Though it didn’t invent the idea of specialized software applications for mobile devices, the iPhone laid the groundwork for the app revolution. According to Apple, some 2.2 million apps are available in its App Store, an increase of more than 20 percent from last year (it had 500 when it first opened). Customers can purchase apps in 155 countries.

9)  Apple’s iPhone success story may be peaking. Sales of the device posted their first decline last year as the smartphone market has become saturated and competition from Android devices such as the new Pixel phone from Alphabet’s Google (GOOG) intensifies.

10) According to MacRumors, Apple is planning an “extra special” iPhone that may feature a curved display and an all-glass casing that will facilitate wireless charging. Inverse.com is expecting faster processors and an improved  camera. 

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    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.