CES newbies could be forgiven for roaming the never-ending show floor in search of the elusive Apple booth. With smart devices commanding the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, how could the dominant U.S. device maker not have a presence?
Industry veterans know better. As the annual extravaganza wraps up Friday in Las Vegas, the ending date of Jan. 9, has particular significance to techies. It's the eighth anniversary of Apple's hijacking of CES.
On Jan. 9, 2007, as 140,000 people swarmed Las Vegas and lined up for keynotes from Microsoft's Bill Gates, Walt Disney's Bob Iger and Cisco's John Chambers, Steve Jobs was 400 miles away introducing the world to the device that would change everything: the iPhone.
Read MoreIntel show & tell at CES
"It's got everything we need," Apple's co-founder and then chief executive officer told the eager audience crammed into San Francisco's Moscone Center. "Multitasking, networking, power management, graphics, security, video, graphics, audio core animation."
From our BlackBerry e-mailers, we messaged with our bosses, friends and colleagues about Jobs, Apple's surging stock price and this new touchscreen device. Though we were all at CES, the iPhone was the only subject that mattered.
"Here was a guy who hadn't committed to the show but dominated the show with a product that was unseen, effectively," said Dan Scheinman, a Cisco executive from 1992 until 2011, and now an investor in tech start-ups. "He was managing to win the show in every meeting."
The launch was particularly wrenching for Cisco, which owned the trademark on the iPhone name, and immediately filed an infringement suit against Apple, even with many of its top executives, including Scheinman, attending CES. The two companies settled the following month.
The iPhone is now on its eighth generation and producing sales of close to $100 billion a year, about 14 times BlackBerry's annual revenue. Google's Android operating system, which hit the market in 2008, is the only real challenger to Apple in the smartphone wars.