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The Original 2007 iPhone: A Deep Dive

PHOTO BY MASON MAENGKOM

The Original 2007 iPhone: A Deep Dive
Andrew Karasyk

Summary


In 2007, Apple was a manufacturer and designer of personal computers. With the introduction of the iPhone, Apple became a dominant player in the smartphone industry. 

Apple triumphantly announced to the world that it had reinvented the phone with the iPhone that was “[a] revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” The declaration did not disappoint and set millions of excited consumers into a frenzy to get one. 

The device forever catapulted the brand reputation -- defined by innovation beyond our imaginations. This propelled Apple to become a global player in the tablet, wearables, and accessories spaces as well.  

According to Time Magazine, the original iPhone “laid the foundation for the modern smartphone, forever changing the way we access the world’s information.

In June 2007, Apple released its most innovative product to date, the iPhone. The device was marketed as an iPod, Phone, and Internet Communications device all in one. At a special event, the legendary Steve Jobs captured the imagination of the world with a “revolutionary product that changes everything.”



Image may contain Steve Jobs Cell Phone Electronics Mobile Phone Phone Human Person Glasses and Accessories
(Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone to the World -- Wired.com)


Cultural Significance


The revolutionary device combined the iPod’s compact music technology with cellular capability. In short, the iPhone put the internet in everyone’s pocket. 

Few innovations have created more seismic shifts in culture than the iPhone. From photography to music to software development, the iPhone changed everything from how we receive information to the way we interact with one another. 

Upon its release -- hundreds of people lined up (some for 22+ hours) in front of Apple stores in order to get the chance to be the first to experience this revolutionary device. 

In the years since, it has become one of the most salient cultural artifacts of the modern era, paving the way for social media and constant connectivity as we know it. Today, Apple has sold billions of iPhones, making it the most popular phone in America. 

As of January 2021, Apple announced more than 1 billion active iPhones worldwide. While the number of brand new-gen 1 iPhones is unknown, Apple made only 6 million, and passionate consumers immediately used most.

Not only did the iPhone pioneer the smartphone, but it has also begun to pioneer transformative technology as an asset class. 

According to a recent article by MarketWatch, as Apple releases the 10th-anniversary iPhone, the 2007 iPhone will cost you 15 times more than the iPhone X. There are no public sales of brand new, sealed original iPhones with the earliest 12-icon variation. 

The 12-icon variation refers to the icons included on the phone screen, pictured on the front of the box. A box with 12-icons indicates one of the earliest production phones. The 13th icon on the box was included after the initial iTunes app was rolled out.

Recent Sales

The last sale of an original iPhone (13-icon), unsealed, was for $11k. The original 8-gig iPhone cost $599, implying ~18.3x return. If you had taken the same $599 in June 2007 and invested it in the S&P 500 with dividends reinvesting, you would have ~2.55x return.


Market Growth

The iPhone continues to be an industry-leading product. In 2020 Apple sold ~$137.8B worth of iPhones. Upon its release in Q2 ‘07 Apple sold 270k iPhones, in Q1 ‘21 Apple has sold 55.2M iPhones. 



(Dazeinfo)


Additionally, there has been a history of significant appreciation for innovative consumer products. For instance, in 2014 an Apple-1 computer sold at auction for $905k, in 2016 an Apple A-1 prototype sold for $815k, and in 2015 a computer hand-built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold $500k. The price for the Apple A-1 was $666.67 in 1976 ($3,032 in 2020). That represents a ~269x return on investment. 


Conclusion

In short, the iPhone gave technological innovation a tangible form for a generation; it appears it’s on pace to continue its role as an innovator -- this time as an alternative investment. Demand and excitement for influential Apple products continues to grow. Although there were 6 million original iPhones produced, relatively few remain unopened and in pristine condition like the one currently trading on Otis.



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