iPhone changed the world, but Steve Jobs is just one of many who deserve credit

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone 10 years ago, he famously said, “Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”

At that time a smartphone was a metallo-plastic contraption that might slide or flip open but largely sat static as you pushed at its buttons and keys.

The iPhone that went on sale June 29, 2007, had one button and a 3.5-inch touchscreen that adapted to each of its 15 smoothly scrolling apps, including a fully functioning web browser, a music player and interactive maps.

Jobs announced a modest goal for that first year–10 million sales, or 1% of the 2007 mobile phone market.

Ten years later Apple has sold more than 1.1 billion iPhones and is the most valuable company in the world, with a market capitalization of nearly $750 billion. In the last quarter of 2016 they sold 17.9% of all smartphones, edging Samsung for the top spot.

Today 3 out of every 4 Americans own a smartphone, and whether it’s made by Apple or Samsung, LG or Huawei, it is a sleek piece of contoured glass cradling a rectangular touchscreen that’s either dormant and black or bright with information. Just like its aesthetic ancestor.

Flurry Analytics, which tracks smartphone app usage, reported that at the end of last year, the average American spent 5 hours a day using their mobile device. Some cherish those hours while others believe they are hastening society’s demise, but there is no disputing Jobs prophetic statement.

What is disputed by some, is exactly how much credit Jobs should get for the iPhone.

A new look at the iPhone’s nuts and bolts is “The One Device,” by Brian Merchant. With a release date designed to take advantage of the tenth anniversary attention, Merchant’s book aims to debunk the “myth of the lone inventor” and paint “a more nuanced, true, and I think, compelling portrait of the one device that pulled us all into its future.” Merchant, an editor at VICE, makes no mystery of the fact he feels that Jobs claimed too much credit for the iPhone.

An even more intimate look at the design process came on June 20 when Scott Forstall and three of the original iPhone engineers joined together for an interview with former New York Times tech journalist John Markoff. The interview marked the first time Forstall had spoken publicly about Apple since the company fired him in 2012. (No reason was given for his dismissal, but Forstall was in charge of the rollout of Apple Maps, which did not go smoothly.) In his conversation with Markoff, he recounted the pioneering period when he and Jobs were “the only two people in the world carrying” iPhones.

He, echoing Merchant’s take, thanked the “hundreds and thousands” of “heroes who made (the iPhone) happen.”

Love it or hate it, the iPhone did change the world — and Steve Jobs is just one of the many people to credit.