10 Years of iPhone and the Smartphone Revolution
This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the Apple iPhone (originally released in the US in June 29, 2007). What followed is a wave of innovation in the mobile space, fierce competition and fall of giants in the industry.
Apple was a nobody in the mobile business. The closest it had was the highly successful Apple iPod but it was the inspiration for what would become a revolution in the smartphone business.
Back then, mobile giants such as Nokia and Motorola were killing it with BlackBerry dominating the corporate and enterprise customers. Between them, thousands of patents that go all the way to the invention of the mobile phone. It was a dominance that seemed impregnable.
Out of the blue and after years of speculation, Apple announced it’s going to enter the smartphone space. That was January 9, 2007. By June 29 of the same year, it released the very first iPhone.
Two things that really made the iPhone a truly disruptive device. First, it introduced a new way of interacting with the phone – a full touch capacitive display. There were a number of phones in the market that have touch display back then but all of them had resistive screens and need some sort of pointing device or stylus.
The iPhone’s user-interface was built to interact with the user’s fingers so it is more responsive and accurate. Apple also introduced multi-finger gestures so the experience was really immersive. The UI was also intuitive that the interaction was natural even a little kid can quickly learn how to use it.
In those times, people heavily relied on physical keys to operate their candy bar phones. A good set of alphanumeric or qwerty keypad was the trademark of Nokia. The physical keys were so organic that people can actually type without actually looking at it. Yep, it was a skill to be able to send a long SMS even when you’re holding your phone behind your back or under a table.
The second feature that Apple popularized along with the iPhone is the idea of an App store. Apple already had great success with the iTunes store for downloadable music and video so it was only logical to do the same for apps.
The App Store for the iPhone came a year later (July 10, 2008), a day before the iPhone 3G was released. The App store had 500 apps in them which was quite a lot back then considering that most smartphone users were not really familiar with the idea of an app.
This made the iPhone a really powerful device with the ability to do so much more than basic calls and text. People got really hooked and started paying for apps.
By this time, it was obvious that Apple has re-defined the idea of a mobile phone.
Some phone manufacturers resisted and continued with the old ways, thinking that their market dominance will continue to shield them from the revolution that is about to happen.
When the first Android smartphone, the HTC Dream, was announced (September 23, 2008), it solidified the concept of touchscreen phones and app stores. The race has begun and everybody followed suit – HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG, Sony-Ericsson and many more.
Today, almost all smartphones have full touchscreen displays with the keypad-touting ones being the rare breed. Big names like Nokia and BlackBerry faltered and mobile legends like Motorola have been passed around to different owners.
The Apple App Store boasts of over 2.2 million apps while the Google Play Store has more than 2.7 million apps.
Truly, a lot has changed in the last 10 years.