It has been a decade, exactly 10 years ago today, since Steve Jobs presented the world with Apple's signature device. At the time, it seemed truly revolutionary and wowed many people. Looking back, the announcement of the iPhone heralded the age of high technology in which we find ourselves, where mobile reigns king.
Contrary to what you might believe, smartphones existed before the advent of the iPhone. Apple modernized the smartphone into what you now think of: a capacitive, multi-touch screen device. In addition to the technological potential of the device, it is important to see the impact it has made on society and daily life as well.
What is the legacy of the first iPhone?
Steve Jobs, father of the iPhone, promised it would be revolutionary, and he wasn't far off the mark. We can see the effect of the technology all around us. Sure, he wasn't right about everything (he said, for instance, that the stylus wasn't useful), but this innovative device has been a pioneering technology.
What is its legacy? The iPhone had a massive market impact. It led to the market environment that produced the open, rather than closed, source Android platform, which has a very different ethos despite being run by Google.
Google has taken a page from Apple's playbook: vertically integrating its smartphone hardware and software production
When you couple smartphones with constant access to the internet, it represents a permanent change to how society works. The "always connected" culture in which we now live has changed how we work, how we socialize and how we go about our daily lives. This has both positive and negative impacts which go beyond the argument that "it's only healthy or unhealthy depending on how you use it."
iPhone vs Android: the never-ending debate
Pour your hate into the comments section, because we're about to enter troll territory. The Android vs iOS debate is ever-present, and simply a matter of (strong) preference for some. My argument is that iPhones only see incremental improvements every three years and that I haven't noticed anything truly revolutionary or innovative from Apple in quite some time.
The iPhone being presented by Apple in 2017 is supposed to be truly innovative, but they always say that. The over-marketing of these products has desensitized us to superlatives like "the best" or "the most innovative". Incremental software and technical improvements don't count as revolutionary.
After the iPhone was released, Android device manufacturers positioned themselves to dethrone Apple. Apple may have kept its image as the most forward thinking, but they've merely sparked more competition instead of wiping it out. Apple wasn't the first to get rid of the headphone jack, but everyone imitates it and it gets talked about when Apple makes a move like this. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a keynote in 2007 that the two giants were working together. The integration of apps like Google Maps and YouTube was revolutionary then, and now are keystones of both the iOS and Android platforms.
Apple's method of vertical integration has now been taken on by Google for its smartphones. By creating both the software and hardware, both companies are able to profit more by cutting out middle men, control the market prices of their smartphones and avoid depreciation. This is why, a year after launch, you can find a smartphone still costing over $800.
Smartphone manufacturers and their users
Apple and Samsung, to name a couple, enjoy a cult-like following for their products. Apple's user base doesn't consist of rich people and celebrities who splurge on luxury goods, but ordinary people who prefer the user experience of the software and the devices themselves enough to pay the exorbitant price. In general, smartphone users have a tendency to be loyal to a particular brand and obsess over its latest products. Is this also part of Apple's legacy?
In any case, you can re-watch the presentation of Apple's first iPhone below:
What do you think is Apple's legacy? Do you think the company is still revolutionary today?