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A look back at the first iPhone rumor that ever was

iPhone Rumors

In the tech world today, there are no more secrets. And with respect to smartphones in particular, it’s practically impossible for a company to release a new device without having important specs, features and details leak out ahead of time. Indeed, upcoming products from nearly all handset manufacturers are routinely subjected to an endless stream of conjecture and speculation.

That said, the iPhone in particular seems to engender more interest and intrigue than any other device on the planet. What’s especially interesting is that iPhone rumors were all the rage even years before Steve Jobs unveiled the device to the world back in 2007. In fact, the first iPhone rumor of note appeared all the way back in 2002, just months after the original iPod was released.

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On August 19, 2002, John Markoff of The New York Times penned an article wherein he said that Apple was already contemplating the development of a phone.

And now come signs that Mr. Jobs means to take Apple back to the land of the handhelds, but this time with a device that would combine elements of a cellphone and a Palm -like personal digital assistant.

Mr. Jobs and Apple decline to confirm those plans. But industry analysts see evidence that Apple is contemplating what inside the company is being called an “iPhone.”

Among the evidence, they say, is recent behind-the-scenes wrangling between Palm and Apple over linking Palm’s own devices to Apple’s new operating system — apparently with little cooperation on Apple’s part.

Certainly, Apple’s push into the market for a hand-held communicator would be an abrupt departure for Mr. Jobs, who continues publicly to disavow talk of such a move. But analysts and people close to the company say that the plan is under way and that the evidence is manifest in the features and elements of the new version of the Macintosh operating system.

Industry analysts tend to be wrong more often than not, but in this case, they were surprisingly on the ball. In hindsight, it’s fascinating to see just how prescient this NYT article was. All the more so because work on the iPhone as we know it today didn’t truly begin until late 2005.

Now as to why iPhone rumors seem to generate a disproportionate amount of interest, I think there are two reasons worth mentioning.

First off, Apple is a notoriously secretive company that will not hesitate to go the extra mile to keep things under wraps. In turn, there’s almost an innate interest in even the most benign Apple rumor. Whereas some handset manufacturers will overtly telegraph their product roadmap, Apple’s secrecy only serves to make the tech masses all the more curious.

Two, the iPhone is iconic. It’s the device that ushered in the smartphone era as we know it today and, as a result, people still get excited about what innovations next-gen iPhone models will bring to the table. And while Apple isn’t the only company introducing innovative features, the iPhone can sometimes signal where the smartphone market as a whole is headed. As a prime example, look no further than the iPhone 5s, a device that brought fingerprint recognition technology and 64-bit mobile processors to the mainstream.


With iPhone 7 rumors now coming in at a fast clip, it’s interesting to take a step back and realize that iPhone rumors, in some form or another, have been making their way through the news cycle for about 14 years now.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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