'The Best of Anything'

Thomas Brand reminisces about the original iPhone of 2007:

A lot has changed since the original iPhone first went on sale over five years ago. Owning an iPhone is no longer a point of interest. Everybody has one, and thanks to its success, multitouch is no longer a novelty. The word App is common language, the same way AOL popularized the keyword and web address. But instead of visiting the site, we now download the app. The iPhone has gotten faster, its screen has gotten taller, and it is filled with more pixels. People are talking to their iPhones, and their iPhones are talking back without anyone answering the phone. Apps now run in the background. Although their capabilities are still limited, there are millions of them to choose from. Competitors now have iPhones of their own. They come in all shapes and sizes, with their own app stores, but none of them are as good as the iPhone. Apple no longer makes just one iPhone. There is last year’s model, and the model before that to choose from.

The original iPhone is no longer with us. Sure it is still tucked away in that closet somewhere, and we will never forget the way its aluminum body felt in our hand. But the mobile revolution it started, and the app ecosystem it nourished, have left it behind. The original iPhone now makes up less than one percent of all Instapaper users. It is no longer capable of running this year’s OS, or the one before that, or the one before that. The App Store’s most popular apps have all abandoned it, and unless you have backed up copies your favorite apps, it will never run your chosen software again. For better or worse, the iPhone that ushered in mobile computing is dead. It did not give us access to new ground as much as it lifted the limitations of what we could do once we got there. I am sad I cannot go back to that time to 2007 when having unlimited information at my fingertips made me unique. When the joy of multitouch was new and different, and the web was unprepared. Maybe someday I will dig into that closet to show my kids the iPhone that started it all. Remembering the days when 15 apps was all you needed, and the next big thing was copy and paste.

Although it’s sadly bricked, I still have my original iPhone sitting in its original box. It and my original iPad will stay with me forever, as both devices are the greatest inventions of my lifetime thus far. Fans of Android may crow about its market share, but it was the iPhone that was (and always will be) the torchbearer for the smartphone-as-we-know-it-today revolution.