If you ever need proof that tech pundits and even seasoned tech executives often can’t appreciate a revolutionary product even when it stares them in the face, you won’t find a better example than the original iPhone. When Steve Jobs first introduced the device in January of 2007, it was readily apparent that the device was an absolute game-changer. Although the original iPhone lacked some features such as copy and paste, its multitouch display and full web browser were nothing short of revolutionary. Indeed, it’s no accident that nearly every single smartphone on the market today is based on the blueprint that the original iPhone laid out 10 years ago.

If we go back in time, some of the early thoughts and impressions regarding Apple’s first-gen iPhone are laughably off-base. With the iPhone’s 10th anniversary upon us, we thought it would be a good time to go back in time and see what some of the naysayers said about Apple’s iconic device way back when.

Ed Colligan

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.

Now to be fair, former Palm CEO Ed Colligan’s quote about the iPhone was uttered before Apple actually delivered the device. Still, it serves as a stark reminder that industry incumbents in tech can never be assured of their position atop of the mountain.

Richard Sprague – Microsoft marketing director

I can’t believe the hype being given to iPhone. Even some of my blindly-loyal pro-Microsoft friends and colleagues talk like it’s a real innovation and will “redefine the market” or “usher in a new age.

I just have to wonder who will want one of these things (other than the religious faithful).  People need this to be a phone, first and foremost. But with 5 hours of battery life?  No keypad?  (you try typing a phone number on that screen, no matter how wonderful it is — you will want a keypad).  And for all that whiz-bang Internet access, you absolutely need the phone to work, immediately, every single time.  Will it do that?

So please mark this post and come back in two years to see the results of my prediction:  I predict they will not sell anywhere near the 10M Jobs predicts for 2008.

Scott Rockfeld – Microsoft

We are not at all worried. We think we’ve got the one mobile platform you’ll use for the rest of your life. They are not going to catch up

Steve Ballmer – Microsoft CEO

Speaking of Microsoft, this is the granddaddy anti-iPhone example of them all.

The iPhone is “is the most expensive phone in the world,” Ballmer said, “and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard which makes it not a very good email machine. So, I, I kinda look at that and I say, well, I like our strategy. I like it a lot.”

Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek

An AP report from March 2008 reads in part:

Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek said in a note to clients that he thinks the impact of Apple’s software development kit is neutral to RIM and maintained his ‘Buy’ rating and $150 target price for the stock,” The Associated Press reports.

“‘Microsoft, with Windows Mobile/ActiveSync, Nokia with Intellisync, and Motorola with Good Technology have all fared poorly in the enterprise. We have no reason to expect otherwise from Apple,’ he said,” AP reports.

Ed Zander – Motorola CEO

An IDG report published one month before the iPhone went on sale.

Motorola Chairman and CEO Ed Zander says his company is ready for competition from Apple’s iPhone, due out next month.

“How do you deal with that?” Zander was asked at the Software 2007 conference Wednesday in Santa Clara, Calif. Zander quickly retorted, “How do they deal with us?” He was onstage with M.R. Rangaswami of Sand Hill Group, who asked the CEO questions after Zander spoke.

Tony Cripps

Even if [the iPhone] is opened up to third parties, it is difficult to see how the installed base of iPhones can reach the level where it becomes a truly attractive service platform for operator and developer investment.

Apple’s apparent ditching of conventional application paradigms for mobile phones seems ill-advised if the company really wanted the iPhone to be perceived as a smartphone and to take on mobile juggernauts such as Nokia, Microsoft and Motorola.

David Haskin

I’m more convinced than ever that, after an initial frenzy of publicity and sales to early adopters, iPhone sales will be unspectacular. If Apple doesn’t respond quickly by lowering the price and making nice to AT&T, which surely will be ticked off, iPhone may well become Apple’s next Newton.

John Dvorak

An all-time classic issued before the iPhone hit store shelves.

Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone… What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a ‘reference design’ and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures.

Otherwise I’d advise people to cover their eyes. You are not going to like what you’ll see.

Eamon Hoey

This gem from a consultant was from April of 2008.

It just doesn’t matter anymore. There are now alternatives to the iPhone, which has been introduced everywhere else in the world. It’s no longer a novelty.

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