The Introduction of the iPhone From an Apple First-Timer's Perspective


SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 10, 2007 — -- As a young woman with high expectations, I've found that first times usually disappoint.

My first Apple keynote speech far exceeded my expectations, though.

When the iconic Apple CEO Steve Jobs walked onto the empty 100-foot stage at the annual Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, he looked a little bit wiry in his black turtleneck and faded blue jeans.

He paced around on stage, sometimes tightly clasping his hands between quick, nervous gestures.

He first talked about the iPod, and how it was the world's most popular video player, and the world's most popular MP3 player.

He cited statistics, such as that more than 2 billion songs have been sold on iTunes, making it the fourth-biggest seller of music after Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target. To date, Apple has sold more than 50 million TV shows on iTunes, and more than 1.3 million movies.

Techies around the world would cringe to know I started to feel myself fighting against slight boredom. Then Jobs made the first of several spectacular announcements.

First, he announced a new partnership with Paramount to feature its movies on iTunes, bringing the number of available movies to more than 250. This means no more scrolling forlornly over iTunes' current sparse offerings, mostly Disney family or action movies.

I can now download "Zoolander" -- one of my favorite movies!

Next, Jobs introduced the Apple TV, a device the size of a small stack of DVDs that sits next to your widescreen TV and allows you to listen to or view any iTunes content on it.

The content, by the way, looked amazing on the demo screen, which was nearly a whopping 50 feet wide.

Apple TV lets you transfer your iTunes content from your Mac or PC to your TV wirelessly. It wirelessly syncs with other computers in your home, so there's no need for DVDs, CDs, or anything else you can lose, break or clutter up your home with when watching shows or movies.

Because the Apple TV comes with a power supply, there is no power brick you have to worry about hiding.

This is a huge plus, because between a TV, DVD player and your DVR, there's usually not a lot of room left. You can also view content wirelessly from a buddy's laptop should she or he want to bring it over and share music, movies and/or shows.

I thought the Apple TV was really cool, but I wasn't sure that it lived up to keynote expectations.

I started hoping there was something really cool coming, otherwise I and everyone else would be pissed.

On Monday, I met two guys who had started waiting in line the night before at 10:30 p.m., just to be first in line for the keynote. I suddenly realized the type of pressure Jobs was under to deliver something really, really cool.

After a demo of the Apple TV that seemed to take forever, there was a moment of silence, as the widescreen behind Jobs turned black.

Every now and then, he began saying, you get to work on a revolutionary product. First, the Macintosh. Then the iPod. And now, he said, he was lucky to introduce not one more, but three new revolutionary products -- a new iPod, a new phone and an Internet communicator.

The crowd clapped in delight.

There was more, though. All three products would be combined into one! It would be called the iPhone.

The room gasped at first and then exploded into applause.

In the next moment, we saw the birth of the highly anticipated iPhone. It's hard to get me excited about any new cool gadget because I've always felt that once you've seen one, you've seen them all.

Also, I'm incredibly cheap, so there's often no gadget that's cool enough to get me to buy one hot off the production line. This seemed much more than a gadget, though; it seemed like a new way of life.

Nearly the entire face of the sleek, black- and silver-lined phone doubles as a widescreen video iPod, and it is only 4.5 inches long and 0.464 inches thick.

It features a user interface that Apple calls "multitouch." You can dial your friends, and select your songs, shows and movies with your finger. No stylus to lose or tiny keyboard.

One of the coolest features of the iPhone was the Visual Random Access Voicemail, which allows you to see who has left you messages, and also skip to voice messages you want to listen to. Why hasn't someone thought of this sooner?

The phone-service provider will be Cingular/AT&T, with whom Apple has entered into an exclusive, multiyear agreement.

The iPhone also features widgets that allow you to see stock quotes and weather, and use Google Maps, which can be really handy for when you are in your car and totally lost.

Should you want to text your friends, you can use the QWERTY-style keyboard with smart keys to minimize spelling errors and wasted time in backspacing.

The phone includes Mac OS X, making it the first mobile device to run an operating system. It uses Safari as its browser and is compatible with any IMAP or POP3 e-mail services. Yahoo will forward your e-mails to your iPhone for free!

Jobs said that the iPhone used software that was at least five years ahead of any phone, and there seemed not a soul in the room who didn't agree.

"We have reinvented the phone," Jobs said, and we all nodded in unison.

Oh, and did I mention? The iPhone also a 2 megapixel camera.

The product was so unbelievably awesome that no one uttered a sound as Jobs announced that it would start selling at $499 for a 4-gigabyte model, and $599 for an 8-gigabyte model.

A few questions were left unanswered, such as whether the iPhone ran Microsoft Word, and whether the new product's surface would scratch, a flaw that plagued the first generation of iPod Nanos.

But the product was so breathtaking in all aspects and included so many features never seen before in one digital mobile device that all seemed to be ignored or forgiven for the time being.

Will I personally buy an iPhone? I'm not sure -- $499 is a lot to shell out for a 4-gigabyte phone/iPod/PDA, even one as beautiful and visually stimulating as this.

But if I find myself lining up for one when they ship in the United States in June, I would rather get the 8-gigabyte version for only $100 more.

And it makes all other smart phones, PDAs and even iPods look bulky and gross. I think I speak for many girls across America when I say I hope the iPhone will later ship in hot pink.

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