It was January 9, 2007 and the venue was San Francisco. The writer remembers his two minutes with Steve Jobs, and when history was made with the launch of the iPhone
My journey began with a frustrating delay that jangled on the nerves. In hindsight, considering that I was going for the launch of the iPhone in the US in 2007, my airlines (Air-India) and the weather seemed to have little consideration for the seminal event in technology and communications history.
Battling a 24-hour flight delay that included a forced sit-in at the aircraft on the Delhi tarmac and an unscheduled overnight stopover at London, I barely managed to reach in time for the Macworld event at San Francisco on January 9, 2007. I finally did though (whew) the Gods must be smiling on me, somewhere. It was a chilly morning that day. I remember a few of us, journalists from Asia, who had been invited gathered at 7 am in our hotel lobby to proceed towards Moscone Center for that very famous Keynote address by Steve Jobs. I had always read about it, now I knew it was real. We saw the beeline Apple fans made queueing up all night long for the famous Steve Jobs Keynote.
Before I get into the Keynote details what I remember most is what happened post event. Immediately after the Keynote, I rushed towards Steve Jobs when he got off the stage and broke a few security cordons to meet him personally. Aghast as they were, Public Relations (PR) professionals at Apple did not know how to handle what they thought was a loose cannon. I called out to Steve Jobs from a distance, he sure was surprised as well. He looked stumped at who this unknown Indian was, trying to get his attention. When I did, I congratulated him on the iPhone launch and I shook hands with him. When I asked him as to when his iProduct range would come to India, he said firmly, "India is on our radar, we shall be there soon." Realising I had already pushed my luck too far by forcing myself and breaking security cordons, I quickly bid him goodbye and did not dare to click a picture with him. I regret that till date, for that would be one for the album, one to tell the grandkids about, one for my future senior citizen group tales... but you get the picture don't you?
To get back to the event, we in the media had privileged access and got an entry directly. The place itself seemed awash in history. For techies, it was enough to breathe in the hallowed air of the Moscone Center at San Francisco. For this, is an edifice where Steve Jobs' Keynotes create history. Like every time, this one too, was veiled in secrecy, nobody knew what Steve Jobs was up to this time. Even the company employees who ushered us in were equally anxious as everyone else. In that mammoth hall as adrenaline surged through our collective veins, we all had gathered to find what Steve Jobs was about to unveil. We were seated on about the 25th row from the stage on the extreme left. That irked me. The side view experience of Steve Jobs momentous Keynote address wasn't why I had travelled thousands of miles all the way from India to 'Frisco, like some Indians say. Never one for taking things lying down (or sitting down) as this was the case, just a few moments before the function was about to begin, I spotted a few empty chairs ahead. Sensing an opportunity, I quickly sneaked out from our designated seating area and rushed to occupy the first row of seats right in front of the stage. I know I sure had created a flutter amongst the Apple public relations staff, but hey, I sure wanted to see history being made from close quarters. With my new vantage point, I knew Steve Jobs would be just 10 feet away, when on stage. Soon, he entered. Right upfront, Steve Jobs appeared on stage in his signature blue jeans, black turtleneck and sneakers. The huge crowd gathered there almost instantaneously broke into applause welcoming the Badshah of Cool Technology. The man had charisma, no other Chief Executive Officer (CEO) can ever match. Let alone Apple fans, even journalists and his peers worship him, for he knows what he's doing and is just so damn right, so spot on, again and again.
During his presentation, he rolled out figures of sales and various company milestones over the last few years. Then, he uttered the words we all were waiting for. "Today we launch the iPhone." Our collective jaws dropped, if one were listening carefully, one would have heard them crashing on to the floor. There was a sudden, awed silence followed by thunderous applause the moment he began rolling out its features. No one had ever imagined that Steve Jobs had this big an ace up his sleeve. We were all floored. None of us knew then, that Apple Computers which had earlier changed the way we listened to music with the launch of the iPod, dramatically altered the business model of the music industry with its iTunes, was creating another revolutionary product we all now know as iPhone. Steve Jobs had done it again; introduced the magic of touch and taught us all what is indeed a smart phone. Steve Jobs, you captivated us then. Now, your spirit lives on through the inventions and gadgets that have changed our lives. Am sure folks in heaven are equally surpised with your early entry there.
Deepak Ajwani is Director - Online and Editor (Media & Entertainment) at Forbes India Magazine