5 years ago today …

… I sat in an airport lounge waiting to board a flight back to Australia. I was watching Steve Job’s MacWorld keynote address from a streaming site. Rumours had been circulating for some months that Apple would announce something big there and expectations were high. And there 10 minutes into the talk jobs announced — Apple TV. Well, that is true but that is not why people remember the speech.

Instead it is what happened 24 minutes in. Jobs revealed it like a magician — the very first iPhone. It is the quintessential case for de novo entry into a market based on innovation. Rivals actually saw the speech and thought that it was, in fact, a trick; that the device wasn’t real and couldn’t do what was demonstrated. Put simply, Jobs pulled off a rarity in electronics — even with all of the anticipation, he was able to earn Apple a rare, coveted “exceeds expectations” award. As I watched it that day, it was hard to believe how incredible this was. It brought a tear to my eye. I know people will rail on me for such unbridled enthusiasm but what sort of professor of innovation and entrepreneurship would I be if this wasn’t enthusing me.

Looking back at that speech, it is amazing how much of the core innovations that set in motion the touch-phone device were present right there in the first iPhone. And it is equally amazing that all this occurred without enabling the torrent of mobile computing applications that followed — first via jailbreak almost instantaneously and then officially 18 months later.


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