It’s pretty surreal to think that it’s already been five years since the iPhone officially hit the streets. When Steve Jobs originally unveiled the game changing smartphone on January 9, 2007, it was like nothing the world had seen before. The 3.5″ 360 x 480 display was gargantuan and sharp compared to the standard ~2-3″ 320 x 240 displays found on many smartphones at that time. The ~400 MHz processor and highly optimized code of iPhone OS (now iOS of course) was a perfect testament to the best parts of in-house hardware and software. Speaking of the software, in 2007 there was absolutely nothing like Apple’s new OS. The big, bold icons begged to be poked and prodded and everything was just so much nicer looking.
While big name mobile players (like RIM and Palm to name a couple) discounted Apple as a “no body” in the mobile world, and someone that couldn’t just walk into the competition and start competing with companies that had been making phones for years, the last five years has proven just how wrong they were. Samsung, Motorola and LG are all still around and doing well, but Apple has been able to match and exceed pretty much all of them, and with a single phone no less. Still, they’re at least moderately successful. Some companies haven’t been so lucky. Palm died after failing to get any traction with webOS (which in its own right was/is a beautiful OS). After being acquired by HP, things were looking up. They had a new home with deep pockets and a promise of dedication to the platform. And then Leo Apotheker happened. He gutted the Palm/webOS team ultimately killing it. Now, webOS is nothing more than an open source “project” at HP, destined for a life of obscurity and eventual death (again). Similarly, now we’re watching the death spiral of RIM whom also had its (ex) co-CEOs infamously joke about the original iPhone’s all-touchscreen configuration and how “nobody would want to use it” — how wrong they were. Now RIM is scrambling to find any option that will let them simply keep the lights on past 2012, much less release their all-new BB10 OS (which was again delayed) in Q1 2013.
You can try and argue that the iPhone didn’t do anything (or at least very little) for the mobile world. But you’d be wrong. A simple look back at smartphones before the iPhone was unveiled and then after shows Apple set the precedent for the modern smartphone, and to a larger more important degree, the proper way to offer an end-to-end experience in the mobile world.
Up until the iPhone, getting 3rd party applications on your mobile phone required visiting various different app stores as well as simply hitting up individual developers’ sites. It was a mess and far from simple. Apple came along and refined the entire process with their App Store in 2008. Even though it’s not part of the original iPhone and the 5 year festivities going on today/this week the iPhone was the catalyst to the App Store, so it’s still important to note as it is not only the phone, but the ecosystem that has made Apple a global giant in the mobile sphere.
Now that Apple is facing increasing competition from the likes of Android and Windows Phone, future versions of iOS and the iPhone can only be better, for we all benefit from a competitive mobile market. Apple keeps everyone else on their toes and vice versa. (If only they’d all stop suing each other…)
Five years ago the iPhone completely changed the smartphone as we know it, and has continued to build upon that basic model from 2007 with each new iteration. The road traveled by Apple and the iPhone thus far hasn’t been worry-free (hello, antenna gate). Nonetheless, the iPhone isn’t slowing down. This fall we’re going to get an all-new 6th generation iPhone, and with it, the next step in Apple’s ongoing revolutionary mobile platform.
Happy 5th birthday, iPhone.