It’s the day the iPhone is launching, and everyone in the audience knows it – including me, as I sit there in the 8th row. Steve Jobs takes the stage for the Macworld keynote with rumors having been flying for months, but scant solid details have leaked, so the only thing we know as we file into the keynote hall is that some kind of smartphone will be introduced. And after he spends the first half of the presentation focusing on other products, he suddenly announces Apple is unveiling three new products: an iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. What the heck was he talking about?
Suddenly, people in the audience begin looking at each other wondering if he really is about to unveil three new products. By that time the iPod is six years old and nothing new. The phone was expected. The “internet communicator” sounds like a really odd wildcard. But then Jobs acknowledges that all three “products” he just listed off are in fact the same product: the iPhone. He unveils the device, which surprisingly scraps the classic iPod interface entirely in favor of a touchscreen with apps.
Steve Jobs shows off one app after another, and then gets around to showing off the Maps app. He demonstrates how the Maps app can find local places of business by searching for the local Starbucks. Then he clicks on the phone number within the Maps app and uses the iPhone prototype to call the Starbucks- and proceeds to order “four thousand lattes to go” before claiming it was a wrong number and hanging up.
It would be another six months before the iPhone ends up landing in the hands of consumers, in a summer event which had lines around the blocks in every major city. But it was that day in San Francisco, in which Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone and then made the most famous prank call of the century, whose 8th anniversary deserves to be celebrated.