At exactly 6:00 p.m. that night, Apple loaned me an iPhone so I could be among the first to try it out and write about it. Admittedly, reviewers from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today and Newsweek got the jump on me by a few days, but it was still very early in the history of the iPhone. Mine was handed to me across the street from the Palo Alto Apple Store just minutes before Steve Jobs walked by to say hello to the many people waiting in line to be among the first to buy one. Exactly two minutes after I got it in my hands, I had to go on TV to show it off and describe it, and people have been talking about the iPhone and its successors ever since.
Video of Larry's CBS 5 SF interview & iPhone demo two minutes after the phone first became available
In my First Look that first appeared on CBSNews.com, I declared
The iPhone's software represents a truly remarkable accomplishment. Sure, the device's ultra thin case and large 3.5 inch display are nice touches, but what really stands out is the user interface that can best be described as inspired."
I wasn't initially sold on the idea of a touch screen in lieu of a physical keyboard.
While my very first experiences with the touch screen were frustrating and – five hours later – I still find myself making some mistakes, I can certainly understand the advantage to being able to dynamically re-define the keyboard depending on the task at hand."
It took me awhile to get up-to-speed using the touchscreen keyboard rather than the physical keyboards I was accustomed to from using a Blackberry and other smartphones at the time. A few months ago I went back to using a Blackberry with a physical keyboard for a day and found it to be frustrating. Apple was right. Like most people, I'm now sold on touch screens.
I was less than blown away with the experience of using the Safari browser on that initial phone.
The good news is that the phone's version of Apple's Safari browser is by far the best browser I've ever used on a hand held device," I wrote. However, "while surfing the web on a 3.5 inch screen remains far less satisfying than using a full sized desktop or laptop PC, Apple has found a way to mitigate the limitation of screen real estate letting you use your fingers to shrink or expand web pages by pinching (to shrink) or spreading a thumb and finger on the screen to expand text by tapping on it twice."
My final conclusion was based, in part, on the phone's high price at the time, but even though there was a bit of a price drop soon after the phone shipped, the iPhone remains a high-cost item as it was when I wrote,
Even though there were plenty of people lined up to pay $499 or $599 to be among the first to own an iPhone, it remains a very expensive gadget that you've managed to live without so far. It's very cool, it's fun and it's oh so very chic. But as innovative as it is, my practical nature tells me that it's not worth skimping on groceries or dipping into your kids' college fund."
But we're no longer managing to live without an iPhone or one of its many worthy competitors and there are plenty of people who are still willing to pay a premium price for the iPhone despite some much less expensive and still excellent Android alternatives.
Happy Birthday iPhone and thank you Steve Jobs.
Larry Magid, Contributor