ANALYSIS: Love it or hate it, you have a lot to thank the original iPhone for
Today marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the very first iPhone.
There are many reasons to dislike Apple’s smartphone range. It’s expensive, it requires numerous proprietary accessories and Apple has taken its time to introduce many of the features Android users have enjoyed for years.
But there’s no doubting its impact, not just in the mobile market, but in how we work and play. We had smartphones before of course, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Nokia attempted to popularise the concept, but it was the iPhone and Apple’s ability to speak to the market that took such devices mainstream.
If you think about how mobile phones went from a device on which we call, text and play the odd Java game (I won’t insult you by using the cliched example of Snake) to one which you could theoretically run a whole business from, then marking the tenth anniversary of the iPhone’s announcement seems appropriate.
On 9 January 2007, the late Steve Jobs showed off a full touchscreen device, the design of which has been altered but never radically changed. It inspired virtually every other smartphone since, as evidenced by the epic legal battle between Apple and Samsung over alleged patent infringements
It wasn’t perfect. It didn’t have 3G, the App Store was still a year away and in the UK it was only available on one UK network (O2) but a revolution had started.
A whole generation of mobile users became accustomed to reading emails, using phone calendars and accessing the web in their hands. Most web browsing is now done on a mobile device, while app developers earned $20 billion from the App Store in 2016.
Apple’s decision not to support Flash was criticised at the time, but a decade on, Flash is near its deathbed as developers and users alike shun its power-intensive nature and insecurities.
The concept of an application has infiltrated just about every consumer device and has changed the world of IT too.
“The aspirational business model for technology companies has changed from licensing an operating system and allowing others to build hardware – like the classic PC business model – has been replaced with efforts to replicate Apple’s tight integration of hardware and software,” notes Ian Fogg, an analyst at HIS.
Nowhere is this more obvious than at Apple’s old rival Microsoft, as evidenced by a move towards services and its new found love of hardware. And the entry of Apple into the market inspired Google and its Android efforts.
The iPhone wasn’t the first to introduce biometric security, contactless payments or even water protection, but it has helped popularise them.
It’s not been an easy ride. The infamous antenna problems that greeted the iPhone 4, Apple’s inability to solve ongoing battery issues (something which admittedly plagues the entire industry) and botched iOS updates are but three examples – and the less said about the launch of Apple Maps the better.
And there’s no doubting that Apple’s ability to radically innovate like it did in the early days of the iPhone are diluted.
But even if you use an Android you’ve benefited from the iPhone.