The day I first heard about a new mobile device called iPhone in 2007 was not an unusual day for me.
I was on the way to an IT event and prepared to meet some people to discuss business. Besides my work in my own company ( N&H ), I had just started working with some highly motivated and smart people from the Netherlands on a new project.
We had met a year before on the, at that time, largest IT exhibition in the world, Cebit in Hannover. This young team worked on a server stack that could act as a drop-in replacement for the key product of the groupware monopolist (with over 80% marketshare).
At that time, such a business trip meant using ordinary train tickets and buy tickets for the exhibition with coupons sent by postal service. On the train I had poor GSM connectivity, but as a professional I could get my mails sometimes over a TCP/IP / IMAP connection. My calendar was only available in my Nokia communicator which I could sync with my Outlook over a cable. It worked out, somehow. But other people on the train were looking at me with my notebook, the communicator and some cables, like a computer nerd trying to fix something. And it felt like that. Constantly fixing small issues to get some actual mails on a train.
That day I used the GSM connection to get Heise news on my notebook while traveling. And I read about the iPhone and what was new about it. THE NEW THING was that it had no keys. And that was in times when a “cool” phone had a real keyboard.
I was not thrilled about this news. Like many others I had not understood at that time what really changed the game here.
My point is that the iPhone changed the IT industry. It brought the Internet, email & calendar into the daily life of billions of people. It set the way how software would evolve. Mobile, easily deployable and easy to use (and easy to get cash for…). Old No. 1 companies faded away (Nokia , Blackberry …) and others like Google participated by inventing Android.
For the business model of Zarafa, the company we had just started, it meant that Desktop and Outlook would not lead in the future. We understood this in 2010 and accepted it finally in 2012 at which point we announced a development focus on web and mobile. We came under heavy fire for our decisions, but I am glad to see that we did the right thing and the numbers back it up.
Today at Kopano we can be proud of a full software stack, supporting the daily communication of millions of people. Kopano is the essence of what started with the iPhone in 2007, delivering continuous improvement to the communication and collaboration experience And we will continue to innovate in 2017.
The iPhone was not only a good thing. It helped set in motion the growing trend towards cloud and data mining and full control over the user. We have to work hard to empower companies, organizations and individuals to stay in control about their data and privacy. We have to deliver the same ease of use and “access everywhere” experience without the problem of having to sell one’s soul and data to devils (you all know the big data mines).. I don’t think they are evil, of course, but their natural interest in optimal business is not in line with the natural interest of the individual to stay free and uncontrolled in their daily life.
So – thanks a lot iPhone, thanks a lot Steve Jobs!
We will continue our journey and deliver software that empowers people