The memory that sticks with me, in fact, is that I was temporarily dumbstruck by the sheer feel of the device. I was testing it while sitting with a couple of Apple executives as well as an Apple PR handler. The idea was that I could try out the device while also asking them questions. As I used the iPhone, I found it very difficult to speak questions or even listen to the answers. The iPhone was so unlike anything I’d ever handled.
I had to link to my pal Jason Snell’s reminiscence about his first hands-on experience with the iPhone. It was so very familiar. I probably had my own briefing on the same day. I was a room with a VP, a senior executive, and a PR person. I had about a half an hour or maybe 45 minutes, tops, to ask as many questions as I could about a device that I knew nothing about until that morning. So what was the first thing I said after they handed me the iPhone?
Well, I said “Go help yourself to a cookie,” nodding towards the catering table. “I wanna play with this for a while.”
Yes. I don’t regret it, either. I had been blown away by Steve Jobs’ demo. I didn’t want to be led or coached. I wanted to see if I could make it do absolutely everything I wanted it to just by poking around with it.
It lived up to every expectation. Nothing — nothing — about the iPhone or the way it worked was in any way similar to anything else I’d ever used. Every tap and swipe and pinch and zoom was accompanied by the exhilaration of discovery and of new experiences. And the only time I couldn’t get something to work was when I launched the Notes app. None of its buttons responded. I finally asked for help…and was told that what I had been trying to use was just an image file taking the place of an app that wasn’t on the device yet.
I’ll never, ever get bored with my job. Every now and again, a device like the iPhone comes along. Great, groundbreaking technology provokes a physiological response: a tingling at the base of my neck. When a thing sets off my Spidey-Sense like that it means This is effing brilliant. I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’m certain that this marks a real moment of history.
Devices like the iPhone come along rarely. In between, I look at hundreds of phones and laptops and social networks and generic apps and gadgets which are each about 80% interchangeable with anything else in their product category. I have to check all of these things out. It’s part of the job. I keep right on looking and it’s for the same reason why movie critics keep coming to the screening room day after day even they know damned well that the first film of the day is going to be the second sequel to a movie based on an 80’s TV show: we love what we do and when we find something special, we feel like that love’s being returned.
Oh, and Jason was 100% right on another point. Man, oh, man…as someone who had actually had substantial hands-on time with a working iPhone, there were a few months in 2007 when paying for your own meals and drinks was purely optional. Everybody wanted to hear the story, everybody wanted to ask questions and hear more.
It was just like that scene from “Bull Durham,” only more so.
“Yeah, I used an iPhone once. It was the best 37 minutes of my life…”