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The iPhone's ten year anniversary: what is its legacy?

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. 

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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.

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The debate lives on. / © AndroidPIT

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.

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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?

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Readers' favorite comments

  • Dean L. 7 months ago

    Ten years is a good start. But the main thing Apple did was create some healthy competition. That's not a bad thing.

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  • Nelson 6 months ago Link to comment

    Over priced still ruling mobile market like king

  • "... 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..." I don't know if I agree with this statement by Mr. Pepicq. There might be some ordinary folk who buy these overpriced old technological devices, but it's cause they see these so-called "celebs" (rich people as you call them supra) owning these items and therefor follow and mimic them thus purchasing these overpriced iphones for no other reasons than that. The only reason someone buys these items from iphone is because they are trendy's and don't have a identity of their own. I can't otherwise see why you would buy such a communist device. Let's be honest iphones follow the typical communist principals. Everyone is the same, the apartment you have is exactly the same as your neighbour's, so is the tv, furiture, bicycle etc. the same as your neighbour's and so is a iphone, it all looks the same, work the same, have the same boring interface, boring software you name it. You must have no identity like the iphone to own such a item. That's just my opinion.

  • Dazzler 7 months ago Link to comment

    I mostly view Apple in a negative light, their tax avoidance strategies have siphoned hundreds of billions of tax dollars out of schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

    Sure other companies do similar things, but nowhere near the same scale. I read a report before that said Google for example pays 10% tax, yet Apple only pays 0.1% tax.

    I think some people see the limited functionality of their phones as a positive - they work ok as long as you use them in very specific ways.

    Personally I prefer customisation and features that make it more like a mini-PC than a phone like USB OTG, plug and play on a PC, SD card slot, which is why I always pick either Windows or Android.

    • Brittany McGhee
      • Admin
      • Staff
      7 months ago Link to comment

      Thanks for adding your thoughts. It's always interesting to hear what drives people's purchasing decisions when it comes to smartphones, whether it's a manufacturer's business practices or the software and feature set.

    • Wrong. http www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-17/which-companies-paid-most-income-tax-2014

  • OVER-RATED, OVER-HYPED, OVER-PRICED.

  • As an unbiased tech fan I believe that Apple fuelled smartphone development and competition, however nothing they made popular was based on their own innovation. They popularised other makers' technology and took the plaudits for a lot of features they didn't spend any R+D funds on. Without Apple we may not have advanced quite so quickly but I doubt the smartphone market would look remotely different to the way it looks today.

  • Mark
    • Admin
    7 months ago Link to comment

    Apple did not create anything all they do is copy what other did before. All they brought to the cell phone market was non removable battery and planned obsolesence. That is not a good thing. People buy Apple because it is the " cool " phone to own not because it is the best or most innovative product.

    • I wouldn't say that given all their patents. I have an Apple phone because I don't care about the app drawer but I do care about fast updates, local support and the best apps in the world.

  • ljhaye 7 months ago Link to comment

    Apple redefined the smartphone and created the App Store. You don't have to like it but it's a fact.

    • 👎 Apple created their own app store, but not apps. It's difficult to pinpoint one person or team responsible for making the "first ever" smartphone app since, in reality, apps are just computer programs that happen to be on a mobile device. PDAs can be traced back using their own form of apps.

      • He didn't say they did.

      • ljhaye 7 months ago Link to comment

        Thank you

      • ljhaye 7 months ago Link to comment

        I never said they did. Blackberry and palm had both web applications and downloadable software from third party developers. Steve Jobs coined the word "app" as opposed to application when introducing the App Store for the iPhone. The iPhone App Store also changed the way developers distributed their software applications to their customers.

        I don't want to get into the pros and cons of the iPhone but I will repeat my original comment. "The iPhone redefined the smartphone" bringing it more inline with a mobile computer ( runs on a Mac OS X kernel) than a communication device.

        FYI: Android was originally designed to go after windows mobile and blackberry...

  • O. K we were so happy Apple joined the mobile market, an caused more competition between Apple & Android, but Apple didn't really thing about it phone owners, with the pricing of there phones and being locked to the itunes, some people only bought the iPhones just because of the Apple name, but the more memory you wanted the more you had to pay for a phone as the never offered the micro sd card slot, which never should be right, thats why the iPhones as never attracted loads of consumers

    • Bastian Siewers
      • Admin
      • Staff
      7 months ago Link to comment

      Well tons of people don't care about SD cards, and the iPhone is still the most successfull smartphone btw. I do agree that choice is important but you need to understand that when you tell someone "you get 64 GB of storage" they are fine with it and simply buy the phone. Of course Apple's name plays a huge role nowadays...

    • You're forgetting that Flagship Android devices cost just as much. most people couldn't care less about removable batteries or SD cards.

  •   12

    I never looked at the iPhone as anything substantial and ten years later it's just as useless as it ever was.

    If it wasn't for Samsung they wouldn't have anything to copy matter of fact they wouldn't even have large iPhones today.

    If Steve Jobs was alive the iPhone would be the same 3.5 inch flop.

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