The iPhone revolutionized the mobile phone market 15 years ago. Today is the birthday of the smartphone father. How Apple made the breakthrough.

What many people take for granted today is anything but that. Carrying a fully functional computer in your pocket that you can only operate with your fingers was almost unimaginable 15 years ago. “Every now and then a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs (1955-2011) at the presentation of the first iPhone in 2007. Once again, the visionary from Silicon Valley was right, and is still right today the iPhone alone has sold more than two billion units. About the birth of the first smartphone as we know it today.

For a long time it was not clear internally at Apple which concept for a new product would prevail. After the iPod appeared in 2001 and, as Jobs would later put it, it not only “changed the way of listening to music but the entire music industry”, the feverish search for the next big hit continued. Innovative operating concepts had to be found, research carried out and money still made.

The balancing act between revolution and making money

In 2005 Apple entered into a cooperation with Motorola in order to generate more reach for the iTunes music service. The result was the Motorola ROKR, the first mobile phone to integrate the iTunes player. However, because a maximum of 100 songs could be stored on the ROKR and Apple presented the iPod Nano on the same day, the project was a flop with customers and was discontinued after a few months.

Meanwhile, behind Apple’s closed doors, work continued at full speed. The Delaware-based company FingerWorks provided the key to what tech consumers now know as the “normal” smartphone experience. Its founders John Elias and Wayne Westermann developed the technical basis of the multi-touch function and gesture control. In the summer of 2005, Apple acquired FingerWorks and took over much of the workforce.

This is how Apple made the breakthrough with the iPhone

However, the question at Apple was how to use the acquired know-how in practice. Should the way the iPod or iMac work be changed? And what was the added value for the users? Apple engineers’ answer was to create a new device that combines both, is also a mobile phone and fundamentally changes the way we use mobile devices. “Today we are reinventing the telephone,” Jobs said confidently when presenting the first iPhone in 2007.

In fact, the market launch of the iPhone on June 29, 2007 in the USA was groundbreaking for the entire mobile communications and IT industry. Smartphones in the tradition of the first iPhone are now an integral part of everyday life, from Nairobi to Bangkok, in the Arctic and on the high seas. All over the world, young and old people alike use pocket computers, the performance of which has multiplied over the years, but whose basic idea has changed little since the first iPhone… This is how you can age gracefully.