That magic feeling

2017 is the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone. 10 years ago, our world changed.


I remember speaking with Brad Inman the morning the iPhone went on sale. June 29, 2007. He had just purchased one of the first devices. He called me on it as he was leaving the Apple Store and simply said, “Joel, go get one.” The next day, I did.

At the time, I think we collectively knew something big had happened. But even a decade later I’m not sure we fully appreciate how big the shift was.

I still have that first generation iPhone on my desk in front of me as I write this post. It finally gave up the ghost a couple years ago. I keep it as an artifact—a curio in my museum of dead tech, alongside my Chumby, my Handspring and my sock puppet.

It had a truly remarkable run—almost eight years of non-stop use as it transitioned out of my pocket and, over time, into my young daughters’ hands.

I recently rewatched Steve Jobs’ iPhone introduction keynote. I recommend it. It’s arguably the very best sales pitch of all time. The key moment comes early:

“Well, today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class.
The first one: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls.
The second: is a revolutionary mobile phone.
And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.
So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device.
An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … are you getting it?”

It was that moment when everyone realized he was talking about a single device. It still gives me shivers watching it today.

What’s interesting, in retrospect, is that the one part of the iPhone that was truly worthy of the revolutionary marker — that it was “a breakthrough Internet communications device” — was given third billing. It’s as if they didn’t really know the magnitude of what they had just built. None of us really did.

A few weeks later, after I had procured my iPhone, I wrote these words on the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog:

“Realtors are going to love this thing. But more importantly, the average Joe is going to love this thing. And for that reason more than any other, the iPhone could be what really kickstarts mobile real estate.”

A decade later, the iPhone no longer has the smartphone market to itself, but the experience I had using that device in those early days was eye-opening. Without question, the iPhone changed real estate as we know it. Forever.

Fast Forward

I bought a pair of Apple’s wireless AirPods the day they were announced. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t had them stuck in my head. And, in doing so, that familiar feeling has come over me once again.

It was a few weeks ago when it became crystal clear. I was trudging back to my car after work through the remnants of a historic snowstorm in Portland. It was bitterly cold, and my hands were jammed in my pockets.

I remembered I needed to text my wife about plans for dinner, but I didn’t want to stop to pull off my gloves and retrieve my phone. It was at that moment I remembered I had Siri sitting in my ear, waiting. I triggered her wake words, spoke the contents of my message and had her send the text for me.

Just like that, I’d digitized a thought and delivered it across the Internet to my wife’s device, all while I was walking and simply by talking.

It was magic.

It gave me a momentary glimpse into a future where voice assistants and intelligent AIs — backed by the vast, infinite resources of the Web — do more for us and become an intrinsic part of our everyday lives and workflows.

That will be revolutionary.

All of which leads me to write these words once again:

Realtors are going to love these things. But more importantly, the average Joe is going to love these things. And, for that reason more than any other, Airpods could be what really kickstarts the next phase of real estate.

Let’s check back in 2027.