Being first on the Internet is serious business. (Or so a hundred million comments would have me believe.) So who posted the first iPhone 4S shots to the Web?
The question turned out to be harder to answer than I expected. While it was easy enough on some sites (Flickr, for example) it was damn near impossible on others (Facebook). Let's start with the easy stuff.
Flickr scans the EXIF data from uploads to track the kinds of cameras people are using. It leads to all sorts of interesting data analysis, but also made it easy for them to tell us which 4S photo was the first uploaded to their site. Turns out, they were all taken by Apple. People downloaded the 4S example photos Apple released and re-uploaded them to Flickr. Er. We don't care about those.
The first original upload to Flickr? It was this photo of a parking structure taken by some blogger named John Gruber who managed to get his hands on the iPhone 4S before it was released to the public. Good job, John Gruber! I hope you appreciate the traffic I am sending to your web log.
Instagram is iPhone-only. (That is, unless you're cheating.) It's ridiculously popular with iPhone users, and so naturally it was going to have some early 4S photos. I asked Instagram to track down the first photo posted from a 4S. They think they found it, and it turns out that it comes from none other than Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller, who posted this one some five weeks ago. And yeah, that iPhone 4S camera is a hell of a marketing tool, Phil.