Apple has made the prefix “i” the hallmark of its mobile devices. But the name “iPhone” did not come up with Steve Jobs. 10 years before the Cupertians, the iPhone was already … Take a look at it – it’s worth it.
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Publication Internet History Podcast spoke about the “very first” iPhone, which in 1997 introduced the company Infogear. Ironically, both philosophically and technologically, he had much in common with the device that Steve Jobs introduced at the MacWorld on January 9, 2007.
Remember the legendary “mantra” of the Apple iPhone, voiced by Steve from the stage?
“So, [он сочетает в себе] three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough Internet communicator. iPod, telephone, Internet communicator. iPod, phone … you understand, right? These are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we call it iPhone. ”
Infogear’s iPhone was also aimed to solve three problems at once: to answer calls, e-mail and to carry out “easy” web surfing on the Internet. Like Apple, Infogear wanted to make the device as simple and easy to use as possible. And the design for the “smart” phone from 1998 was made by the Frog Design company, which once worked on several Apple computers at once.
The creator of the device, Robert Ackerman, recalled that he was guided by the simple principle “Can my mother use this thing?” In working on his “iPhone”. He assures: the skills of working with a cell phone and an ATM were enough to master the Infogear iPhone and access the network from the device.
Interestingly, the Infogear phone had not only a flip keyboard, but also a touch-screen display (albeit black and white). As you can see in the pictures, the work with the interface also went through the icons. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
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True, as a result, the “sensor” turned into a problem for the manufacturing company. At that time, the technology was still immature and therefore expensive to manufacture. Infogear hoped that the production cost of their iPhone would not exceed $ 100 dollars, which would allow it to sell for $ 250-300. But in the end, the cost of a touch screen alone was $ 80. To find a major partner who could subsidize the price of the iPhone, also failed. According to Ackerman, as soon as he suggested that someone sponsor a revolutionary project that combines the best features of telephony and the Internet,
“… they looked at me as if my third eye had opened. “After all, the telephone is the telephone, and the Internet is the Internet! They said. ”
Therefore, at CES-1998, the iPhone was introduced at a price of $ 499. Another $ 20 had to be paid for the opportunity to access the Internet.
Industry media iPhone, despite the high cost, I liked it. Personal Computer World magazine called the phone “a spectacular look into the future,” PC World described it as a “well-made product from a design point of view,” which “organically combines the capabilities of the phone, the Internet, and email access in a small package.” The jury of CES-1998 awarded the iPhone the title of the most innovative device of the year.
It should be borne in mind that the capabilities of the Infogear phone were very modest. He had only one telephone line, so the owner could not talk and go online at the same time. Apple iPhone, of course, no longer had such problems. Technical specifications were also more than modest: only a 16-bit processor and “for everything about everything” only 1 megabyte of memory. Ackerman explains: the then existing mobile technologies simply did not allow the release of something more perfect.
But innovation was more than enough. In 1998, the Infogear iPhone already had:
- Touch technology for use in work. IPhone software was able to recognize the number on the web page and turn it into a touch button, so you could make a call with just one click.
- Due to the modest “stuffing”, most of the computing operations were performed on a remote server. Today this – albeit with some exaggeration – would be called “cloud computing.”
- Voice mail. Dictated messages were translated into text and displayed on the screen, it was possible to immediately call the sender back with a click of a button.
- Built-in application with maps of the area (from the supplier RR Donnelley & Sons).
- Movie rating from Hollywood Online.
- An analogue of the recently announced Apple Newsstand application – on the Infogear iPhone you could read news and articles from well-known magazines People, Time, Money and Sports Illustrated.
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Impressive? Not that word. Even the marketing “little things” were similar. The Infogear press release on the occasion of the iPhone’s release said that the device wasn’t released to replace the PC, but intended to “coexist with the PC, just as a microwave coexists with a conventional stove”. Steve Jobs once also said something similar – many know his similar style comparison of cars and trucks with tablets and PCs, respectively.
In 1999, the second generation of the Infogear iPhone was released, the novelty received a different keyboard and the long-awaited second telephone line.
A total of 100,000 iPhones were sold.
Ackerman is lamenting – the creator of the iPhone is sure that his product was ahead of its time and he was just unlucky with the maturity of the market and the technologies available at that time.
However, our story is not yet complete. In 2000, one of the investors in his project, the well-known company-legislator of mods in Cisco network equipment, bought Infogear and all its intellectual property for $ 300 million.
Among other things, Cisco has become the owner of the iPhone brand and trademark. She took advantage of her right – in December 2006, a VOIP phone under the Linksys brand saw the light, on its case, the inscription “iPhone” was written directly under the screen.
So when Apple launched its iPhone in 2007, it formally violated Cisco rights and had to be punished. A lawsuit has already been filed, but Steve Jobs once again proved himself to be a negotiating genius (a story about how he agreed with Cisco, including using not very beautiful methods, deserves a separate article) – and on February 20, 2007 network equipment dealers decided that they would not obstruct the triumphal procession of the iPhone on the planet.