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iPhone 10th Anniversary: The Best and Worst Predictions

Apple has sold more than 1 billion iPhones since the late Steve Jobs unveiled the iconic and revolutionary device 10 years ago today. But debate about the Apple (AAPL) iPhone has probably generated 2 billion quips, quotes and comments. We’ve gathered some of the most notable and entertaining—both the accurate and the inaccurate—for your review, listed below mostly in chronological order.

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
—Palm CEO Ed Colligan, November 16, 2006

“People get BlackBerrys to get mail, specifically corporate e-mail. People are going to buy iPhones to get entertainment, with mail as a bonus. The products live in almost totally disjoint worlds. The iPhone may challenge some Treo, Windows Mobile, and Symbian (mostly Nokia) products, but its hardly a threat to BlackBerry.”
Businessweek reporter Stephen Wildstrom, January 12, 2007

“It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers. But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it.”
—Co-CEO of Blackberry maker Research in Motion Jim Balsillie, February 12, 2007

“It’s sort of a funny question. Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? I want to have products that appeal to everybody. Now we’ll get a chance to go through this again in phones and music players. There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”
—Then-Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, April 29, 2007

“It is critical to keep in mind that the iPhone will be a combo device (iPod and mobile handset), which will attract more than just a mobile phone customer…We believe investors should own shares of Apple today for the 2009 ramp in iPhones.”
—Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, June 7, 2007
(Apple stock more than doubled over the next three years and gained 762% over the next 10 years)

“The prediction of the theory would be that Apple won’t succeed with the iPhone. They’ve launched an innovation that the existing players in the industry are heavily motivated to beat: It’s not [truly] disruptive. History speaks pretty loudly on that, that the probability of success is going to be limited.”
—Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, June 18, 2007

“Expectations for the iPhone have been so high that it can’t possibly meet them all. It isn’t for the average person who just wants a cheap, small phone for calling and texting. But, despite its network limitations, the iPhone is a whole new experience and a pleasure to use.”
—Tech columnist Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, June 26, 2007

“What (Apple) does have, however, is a real shot at redefining the cellphone. How many millions of people are, at this moment, carrying around both an iPod and a cellphone? How many would love to carry a single combo device that imposes no feature or design penalties?”
—Tech columnist David Pogue, September 11, 2007

“It’s an old adage that the best camera is the one you have with you. It’s getting to the point now where the iPhone camera isn’t just good because it’s with you, but good because it’s actually pretty good.”
-Tech blogger John Gruber, June 29, 2010

“It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I’m okay with that.”
—Then-Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, July 14, 2010 (amidst attention on the flawed antenna design of the iPhone 4.)

“Largely based on Nokia’s strong support, Windows Phone is set to regain the No. 2 rank in the smartphone operating system in 2015. Finnish-based Nokia in 2009 lost its second-place worldwide ranking because of rising competition from Google Inc.’s (GOOGL) Android and Apple Inc.’s iOS.”
—IHS iSuppli, January 18, 2012
(By the end of 2015, Android had captured 80% of the market, iOS 18%, and Windows just 1%.)

“Apple has become a value trap, This is a company with no growth, and profit margins that are way too high vis a vis the competition.”
—Hedge fund manager Doug Kass, September 17, 2013
(Adjusted for splits, Apple’s stock closed at $65.05 that day, was over $80 in three months and hit $101.58 a year later)

“There’s no doubt a bigger iPhone model will attract some people, but it won’t dramatically grow Apple’s iPhone sales, just as it hasn’t done for Samsung.”
—Galen Gruman, executive editor of InfoWorld, February 7, 2014

“After this big upgrade cycle runs its course, in other words, I think annual iPhone sales will shrink, especially if Apple persists in charging $800 for its phones while the average price of smartphones plummets worldwide.”
—Henry Blodget, September 10, 2014


What about your author? I had it right on June 20, 2007: “I’m sure it will be a huge, huge hit.” But I went on to advise consumers not to buy the very first model, citing in part my car ownership experience: “I’m the guy who bought the original redesigned Saab in 1994 and I can tell you there were more than a few quirks.”

That drew the attention of humor blogger of the day, Fake Steve Jobs: “The guy is comparing an iPhone, designed in California and built by highly motivated child workers in China, to a car made by lazy socialists in Sweden. Whatever.”

And then there was the view of the real Steve Jobs, in the middle of his famous January, 2007 keynote. “What’s the killer app? The killer app is making calls.” That may have been true for a short time, but now the iPhone is barely used for calls at all.

Somehow, I think Steve Jobs would be okay with that.