August 18, 2007: A video goes viral on YouTube when 23-year-old internet personality Justine Ezarik, aka iJustine, posts a 300-page iPhone bill mailed to her in a box by AT&T.
The bill — which lists every single action that consumed cellular data on Ezarik’s brand-new iPhone — is quickly viewed by 3 million people and receives extensive media coverage. (You can watch it below.)
iJustine’s 300-page iPhone bill shocks the internet
Initially, the iPhone — which launched the previous month — worked only on the AT&T Mobility network. When activating their new phones, iPhone users had the option of choosing how they wanted to be billed. Anyone who skipped quickly over the setup without specifying an option received the default — an itemized bill detailing all charges.
While iJustine wasn’t alone in receiving an extensive bill like this one, she was among the first (and certainly became the most visible). The iPhone went on sale on June 29, after which a one-month period needed to pass before people starting receiving their first bills.
Her bill came to $274.81, while the package reportedly cost AT&T around $7 to send. It arrived on Saturday, August 11, 2007. And it took until August 18 before AT&T issued an official statement clarifying what happened (and pass the buck).
“Our customers have the option of receiving a bill that is detail-free,” the company said. “Also, we have for years encouraged our customers to switch to online billing because it is convenient, secure, and environmentally friendly.”
AT&T switches up its iPhone billing
Shortly thereafter, AT&T sent text messages to all iPhone users saying paper bills would no longer be itemized. The company claimed the move had nothing to do with media pressure and had been planned all along.
iJustine’s infamous 300-page iPhone bill became the subject of one of the first iPhone-related viral videos, but many more would follow. It laid the groundwork for later videos like the “Antennagate song” that Steve Jobs used to open an Apple press event, the iPhone 6 Plus “Bendgate” videos and more.
It also stands out as an amusing moment in Apple history because it underscores the teething pains that occurred as the world began to embrace smartphones.
Also on this day in Apple history
Hewlett-Packard becomes a company
I found a few neat Apple tie-ins while researching this day in Apple history. On August 18, 1947, Hewlett-Packard incorporated as a company. As a kid, Steve Jobs was a member of the Hewlett-Packard Explorers Club, which met in the company’s cafeteria every Tuesday night to receive a talk from an HP engineer.
At age 12, Jobs looked up company co-founder Bill Hewlett in the phone book (!) and asked him for parts for a frequency counter project he was working on.
Wang Laboratories goes bankrupt
On August 18, 1992, Wang Laboratories filed for bankruptcy protection. One of the companies that fared poorly following the arrival of the PC giants, Wang is an interesting tangent to the Apple story. It led the way for Apple when it came to advertising in a couple of ways.
For starters, it was the first computer company to run a Super Bowl ad, which it did in 1978. Apple famously followed with its iconic Mac ad in 1984.
Wang also faced off with IBM, positioning itself as the scrappy underdog fighting the established giant. Still, I’m not sure that a marketing campaign based on the implication users are hungry for Wang is a good idea!
Apple ships the Power Mac G5
On August 18, 2003, Apple began shipping the original Power Mac G5, affectionately known as the “cheese grater.” I wrote about the computer on June 23, the date Steve Jobs introduced the Power Mac G5. By August 2003, when it started shipping, Apple received more than 100,000 preorders for the powerful desktop machine.
“The Power Mac G5 is a big hit with customers and developers,” said Phil Schiller in an August 18 press release.
Apple’s ‘Misunderstood’ ad wins an Emmy
Finally, on August 18, 2014, Apple’s “Misunderstood” iPhone ad won an Emmy for Cupertino. The minute-and-a-half-long video depicted a teenager so obsessed with his iPhone that he seemed to be missing out on spending time with his family at Christmas time.
However, the end of the ad brought an uplifting plot twist. He revealed that he wasn’t actually being a misanthrope the whole time. In fact, he used his iPhone and iMovie to shoot and edit a heartwarming family montage! Watch the award-winning Apple ad below.