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The iPhone saga [1]

febrero 13, 2020

It was a foggy morning, but a fog made by those clouds that fly low over San Francisco. It is an almost cold morning, as rarely happens in January in the city of the Bay. Your reporter had sneaked in, the only Italian, into a side entrance to the Moscone Center, had just got his hands on the jewelry jewel announced a few hours earlier by Steve Jobs, the iPhone, and now he was out again, watching the people passing by on the streets of San Francisco. And he thought.

What he had just had the chance to see, touch and try briefly was the materialization of a dream that all or almost all Apple fans had carried on for years. Especially the Europeans, where the mobile phone has had much more fame and diffusion than in the US for a long time. The dream of a phone with the Apple. And that dream had just come true.

A dream made in reality like no one had imagined it. Pure fruit of the ability of Steve Jobs, Jonathan Ive and the other Apple engineers to amaze even when they play the card of what everyone has foreseen, that everyone has imagined, that everyone has intuited. The iPhone, three devices in one (telephone, Internet, iPod), was radically different from the sketches and ideas thought and imagined for years on the Internet. It is much better.

Your reporter retraced with his (however scarce) visual memory the sketches prepared over the years, for example by the well-known Japanese designer who fills the Applele site with projects and imaginative machines. Rounded keyboards, sled iPod with keyboard below, shapes and even beautiful shapes on which any Motorola or Nokia would go on for years. All passed in a flash by a technology that no one had expected to see coming on mobile phones. The multitouch screen. It was a surprise, because together with Steve Jobs' propensity for radical and uncompromising choices, he broke sharply with the past.

They had already seen a mountain of devices with the touch screen, the reporter thought walking towards the main entrance of the Moscone Center from where he could have entered the press room. A respectable test awaited her: writing the piece of a life, the perfect story. How do you feel about the iPhone that you all talk about but that only I (in Italy) have tried.

the first iPhone gallery

And the reporter thought. Touch screens had already been seen galore, with nibs of various shapes and with people who invented nails as a guitarist to be able to use them faster and without having to pull out the stylus. Touch screens had already been seen in bags, with five, six, even eight buttons around, to quickly access all the functions and services "more quickly". Touch screens had already been seen in the mountains and none that could give satisfaction to those who used it, either for the incomplete and incomplete operating systems, or for the fact that what moved them was a nanoscopic version of interfaces born for all other world and dimensions.

Apple's iPhone had this unique and shocking thing: a multitouch screen. A screen you used with two fingers. A screen that rotated it and he also rotated its contents. Not always but almost. A clear, defined screen, with more pixels per inch than anything your reporter had ever touched or seen before. And the impression, holding the device in your hand and touching it, caressing it, pressing it, was to touch an aquarium with darting fish made of bright and colorful silver inside. Your reporter was perplexed and embarrassed at the same time. The feeling was that of being faced with a paradigm shift and not knowing how to find the words to explain it, because words are fundamental to understanding the concepts and in this case there was the feeling that they had not yet been invented.

In that January of 2007 Apple had just upset its commercial policy. Contradicting years of denial (the iPod an iPod, it will never be a phone. Nobody wants to see films on such a small screen, etc.), she had reinvented herself in an exercise of pragmatism that arose from consideration. Nothing forever. Not even the iPod of super hits. And the technologies that until then had made the iPod a winner compared to the mixed competition of multimedia players and competing smart phones were slowly finding a way to consolidate themselves on the drawing board of less gifted but not less tenacious opponents. In short, the iPhone – thought the reporter – arrived before the decline of the iPod became too sensitive and helped him to restart.

Entering the press room, none of the colleagues in the international press who had not been able to touch the device with their hands – who actually didn't even know that few lucky people had been able to touch it – imagined the thoughts that shook your reporter's mind . How to tell in a few lines a decade of desires, passions, expectations? From the disappearance of the Newton, wanted by Steve Jobs to his return to the helm of Apple to focus on the devices that count to get out of the crisis, the Apple people hoped for something small but powerful to be able to put in their pockets. He had just arrived and brought with him a revolutionary technology as an idea: MacOs X with an ad hoc interface, designed for that format. And a virtual keyboard of joy and pain of those who, months later, would have started tinkering to look at and reply to emails, for text messages, to surf the net, to take notes or to make a new contact.

Turned on the laptop, your reporter was still thinking. How can you tell the passion of the managers of Apple, who presented themselves to the press on the iPhone with the pride of those who have done their homework to perfection and expect a ten and praise without doubts and without hesitation? How to tell the pride of holding this fascinating, mysterious device with smaller dimensions, long and thin, bright, compact and solid, in an imperious word? In the usual noisy rush of people back and forth through the press room, populated on the first day of Macworld by a heterogeneous crowd of journalists from all over the world, your reporter with a sigh stood in front of his favorite text editor (TextEditor, of course) and start writing:

Appointment at half past seven on a cold and cloudy morning in San Francisco in front of one of the large hotels in the center with the head of European communication from Apple. A quick walk to a side entrance of the Moscone Center, via a maze of corridors and private rooms where meetings and briefings are held together with very few other European journalists – no more than one per country – and finally ten minutes to ask Greg Joswiak and David Moody, two of Apple's "big bosses", all on the iPhone. And, above all, being able to touch it with your hand to understand if the device is worth the enthusiasm that Steve Jobs yesterday put us in his presentation (and that today's newspapers are putting in telling how the keynote destined to make history went, according to the founder of Apple).

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