Where were you when you when the iPhone launched? More importantly, if you ever owned an iPhone do you remember the first experience you had? I do. I remember my first experience when I bought and used the original iPhone and it was profound. Life changing actually. Which is saying something since I had been using smartphones since the early days of the Handspring Treo.
When the iPhone launched I was actually at CES. My father, and the president of our industry analysis firm, left CES to go to Macworld where the iPhone launched. I’ve been at every Apple event but this one. Yet even though I wasn’t there the iPhone launch impacted my life–temporarily–even before I got my hands on one.
In the moments after the iPhone launched my father was walking around the MacWorld show room when he saw an Apple exec whom he knew. He was able to get a quick demo of the iPhone and even a demonstration that it could make a call. The exec offered to let my dad call someone. He called me on my cell phone. Ironically, I was in a meeting with the Windows Mobile team at CES when he called so I did not answer. When I got out of the meeting I listened to the message and it was my dad saying he called to tell me the iPhone was awesome and he was calling me from one.
Not long after my dad called me this same Apple exec demonstrated the iPhone to a number of national and international TV networks. Guess whose cell phone number was on the screen while he did the demo? If you guessed mine you are correct. Not only did my cell phone number make the news, still pictures of that iPhone with my cell phone number on it hit the pages of most major newspapers the next day. Guess what happened in the days following? I got a minimum of 1500 calls a day for about a week. Here is what was really terrible about this situation. Because I get many calls from the local, national, and international press looking for quotes and perspective on the latest news, I had to answer or at least listen to the voicemails of very single one of these calls. Since the iPhone had just launched I did do well over two dozen press interviews. I only have the numbers of several journalists in my contact list so most who call me I don’t know their number. Expecting and getting press calls during a period where several thousand people want to call your number because they saw in on their TV or newspapers was a surreal experience.
You might be wondering what some of these calls were like. I kid you not the vast majority were people calling me asking to talk to Steve Jobs. They assumed this number was a way to reach Steve Jobs and most wanted to pitch him on an idea or set up a meeting. How do I know this? Well after the first day I decided to start talking to people. At first I simply asked them why they felt compelled to call a complete stranger. A few were lonely and we had some interesting conversations. Some just wanted to see if it was a real number. But most would call and right up front ask “may I talk to Steve please.” Once I realized they were looking for Steve Jobs I decided for a few, if I was in the mood to mess with someone, I would pretend I was. I hope Steve forgives me but the prankster in me had to mess with a few folks.
Burned in my memory was a message one guy left for me via voicemail. He yelled at the top of lungs into his phone “dude your phone number is on the news!.”