There has been a lot of talk lately about how Apple’s introduction of the iPhone was an amazing change because they treated cell phones for the first time as computers. But this isn’t true. It wasn’t the first time.
When PalmPilot’s shipped, Palm positioned it as a connected organizer. Microsoft released Windows Mobile and positioned it as a computer you would carry around in your pocket. Palm responded by becoming more and more computer-like. For some reason, Palm dropped hand writing recognition for hard keyboards, as did everyone else in the industry.
Apple wasn’t the first by a long shot.
When Apple came along, though, the industry was moving into silo-ed products. My desktop computer accessed the entire web, my cell phone was used for calls and the occasional app, and my iPod was used for entertainment. I, personally, was very frustrated that I had to carry multiple devices around. Sure, there were mp3 players for Treo’s and BlackBerry’s, but the experience was horrible, much like Rio MP3 players before the iPod came along.
Apple had the perfect timing. They combined their amazing infrastructure for entertainment and music playing with the full Internet in your pocket on a stunning device that did just enough to make phone calls. That’s not “bringing the computer” to your pocket. That was an old idea. What it did do is bring the right combination of capabilities on a single device.
 In a twist of fate, I wrote this last week but didn’t post it. Horace Dediu of Asymco basically said the same thing in an interview with John Cox at Network World that I just saw this morning.