Editor’s note: Chris St. Hilaire, co-founder and CEO of MFour Mobile Research, Irvine, Calif.

Ten years ago today, on June 29, 2007, the Apple Store on New York’s Fifth Avenue opened for business, and in streamed the first U.S. consumers to buy an iPhone – a distinction they’d earned by camping out four days ahead of time to ensure they’d be first at the sales counter.

When the history of marketing research is written, students of the industry will marvel at how a discipline that exists to provide sharply-honed, statistically reliable, up-to-the-minute data and insights into any and every shift in consumers’ attitudes and behaviors could have failed for so many years to understand the implications of what went down on June 29, 2007. 

Apple’s iPhone and its iOS operating system kick-started a new era in the history of communications and information sharing – along with Google’s Android operating system, which debuted in the U.S. on Oct. 22, 2008, when the first Android-powered smartphone, the T-Mobile G1, went on sale.

The world had first learned of Apple’s new smartphone at 9:44 a.m. PT on Jan. 9, 2007, when Steve Jobs paused during his keynote address at the Macworld 2007 conference in San Francisco and told a cheering crowd that “today Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.” The iPhone, he proclaimed, was not just “a revolutionary mobile phone,” but “a breakthrough Internet communications device” controlled with a finger-tap on its screen. “It’s the Internet in your pocket, for the first time ever.”

When tech reviewers got their hands on the devices, even skeptics concurred. The Wall Street Journal reported that the iPhone was “on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer.” The New York Times pronounced it “a real dazzler,” and mused that “maybe all the iPhone hype isn’t hype at all.”

The cautionary lesson for marketing research is what iPhones and An...