I saw the “Jobs” movie about Steve Jobs and Apple on the airplane on my last trip to Asia. The movie did a nice job of hyping up Steve Jobs’ legacy and I couldn’t help myself get swept up in the admiration that Steve did some “revolutionary” things particularly the iPhone that has touched so many people’s lives. This combined with Jobs’ insistence that Android stole everything from him raises his stature even more in the minds of many people.
But then I started thinking about my old Treo 700 and going back to the original Treo 270 that I started with in 2002 and started wondering – just in what way was the iPhone truly revolutionary that didn’t exist before in my much beloved Treo?
– GUI user interface ? Treo had it.
– Touch screen – Yes Treo had it.
– External SDK to allow third party development – Check.
My conclusion is that the thing that really set the iPhone apart from Treo and allowed it to reach the massive market share that it is today was not so much the technology, as Steve Jobs often claims, but really mainly the marketing and the packaging. When i say packaging i do give credit to Jobs’ flair for industrial design and simplifying things for non-techies. I still recommend Apple products to my parents and friends who are not tech savvy because Apple stuff requires very little maintenance.
In the end, though, I believe that the iPhone really wasn’t revolutionary, but rather evolutionary on the existing smartphones that were already in the market and starting to gain market share anyway. As some people have suggested, Jobs’ genius was not in the technical vision, but rather in seeing where the train was going and then jumping out ahead and making everyone believe that he invented the train.
Attached is an article from 2007 that does a feature comparison between the existing Treo and just announced iPhone for nostalgia’s sake.