Flashback is an occasional series in which we take a trip down Memory Lane, to revisit products, brands and moments from the world of technology past.
The iPhone came at a momentous time for the mobile industry as well as its creator, Apple. Mobile phones were maturing into much more than novelty devices while Apple was on a roll with successes such as the iPod that had taken it to greater heights, even as its competitors (read: Microsoft) were struggling. Introduced as the combination of “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device", the late Steve Jobs laid the foundation with the iPhone that would guide the Cupertino company for the coming decade, granting him a lasting, borderline-mythical, legacy.
"Smartphones" existed before iPhones, sure. Palm, Blackberry, and Microsoft's own Windows Mobile existed in their specific demographics. But, none could quite capture the impact that the "Designed in Cupertino" smartphone would. In January, Apple celebrated the 10th anniversary of iPhone's unveiling. Today marks ten years since the phone was first made available to the general public.
The first iPhone had no "App Store" to speak of; no carrier subsidy to make its price more appealing to buyers; and, more importantly, no 3G connectivity, which is why it was laughed off by its competitors, most famously, Steve Ballmer. The original phone almost had an iPod-like UI, too, but that was scrapped for the simplistic iOS one that it employs today.
Apple came back stronger with its second offering, the iPhone 3G, which, along with the glaring telephony omissions, brought with it the App Store, ushering in a new era in the world of smartphones. Fast forward ten years and Apple is, arguably, the most dominant force on the planet barring Google's Android, which itself borrowed a lot from iPhone's design. While Android has more users worldwide, Apple rakes in the most profit.
The corporation continued its smartphone reign well into the 2010's, with iPhone sales peaking at 78 million units in a single quarter by Q1 2017. It has sold over one billion iPhones following its introduction and still holds a considerable market share. It has since become the company's primary revenue generator and, in the process, turned Apple into the biggest tech company in the world.
However, criticism has been cast at Apple for not taking enough risks with the derivative design of iPhones and being invariably late to the party when it comes to the newer features while still charging a premium price for its devices. But for all its flaws, the device has truly invigorated a category that became an integral part of our daily lives. For that, we thank you, iPhone and wish you a Happy Birthday.
Celebrating its 10th, one would assume that Apple has something big in store for its fans this year - perhaps something that builds on its newly-released ARKit.
One more thing, anyone?