Apple often claims its products are revolutionary, because on each launch, Apple competes with its own previous truly revolutionary product announcement. But, there has been no Apple product with greater impact than the iPhone, for Apple, for the mobile industry, and because of the spread of mobile technology, for the whole technology industry.
The original iPhone included multiple innovations including a direct manipulation multi-touch interface and desktop PC class web browser and other built in apps such as Google Maps, Apple Mail, and calendar and contacts. This caused every other mobile handset maker to alter their products.
Apple also innovated quickly, using an annual update cycle to the iPhone hardware and software to outpace many rivals.
In the ten years since the iPhone’s announcement there are numerous changes directly or indirectly caused by the iPhone:-
- The leading handset makers of 2007 – number one Nokia among them – have been replaced by Apple, Samsung and Huawei.
- The leading smartphone operating systems of 2007 are no longer with us, including Symbian, BlackBerry, Palm, and Windows CE.
- The smartphone has moved from a product with niche adoption to one which everyone owns.
- Multi-touch interfaces have become mainstream, not only on smartphones, but on PCs and tablets as well.
- Apps have become mainstream, replacing websites for many uses, because of Apple’s success of creating an easy profitable way to distribute apps; and, other companies have used the same model, including the Google Play store and Microsoft’s Windows PC app store.
- The smartphone has become the hub for consumers’ digital lives, replacing the PC. In 2007, every hardware product connected to the PC, now everything connects to smartphones.
- Technologies pioneered in smartphones have enabled the creation of new products, from tablets, to smartwatches, fitness trackers and TV streaming boxes such as Apple TV.
- Companies making mobile hardware and software such as ARM, Facebook and Google, have prospered, at the expense of competitors who have failed to succeed in mobile such as Intel and Microsoft.
- 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.