Monday, January 9, 2017

iPhone hits its 10th birthday

Exactly 10 years ago , Steve Jobs said the following " Today we are going to re-invent the phone" - This quote -even after a decade of Apple vs Android smartphone wars still holds true as the product family over every iteration as somehow managed to change the mobile world . So how did we get here ? lets take a quick look .

In this day and age , most of us take smartphones for granted , but a decade back the mobile marketplace and society in general was quite "different"- Business people carried overly complicated PDA's, Nokia was still around ,iPods were still a thing and we had a few less wars .Back then , owning a "cellphone " meant that you had either a candybar/flip phone or a expensive smartphone with Symbian OS or Blackberry with email support and internet speeds which were measured in Kilobytes per second . Apple at the time was mostly focused on its Mac lineup and things moved smoothly , rumors about Apple's first "phone"circulated around the web as early as 2004 when they signed a Joint venture with Motorola for the Rokr- the first and only Motorla device to support iTunes. This also paved the way for Apple to develop its own smartphone and eventually launch the first smartphone - the iPhone 1st Gen .

Like most first gen products , the iPhone is not perfect , sure it did wow the audience and the general populous as it featured a never before seen capacitive touch display and a beautifully simplified UI , it brought gestures like pinch to zoom which were never heard back then .The product - as a gadget was still under-equipped(thanks to the lack of connectivity and features available on other "smart" devices )  .And because of this ,former phone giants like Nokia ,Microsoft and Motorola  considered the iPhone  to be nothing more than some step-over competition who wouldn't get any marketshare at all .but 10 years later , Most of these companies are struggling to get some fresh air as tables eventually  turned and everyone wanted to get their hands on these "touchscreen smartphones" 

The first iPhone was somewhat of a success , it took over a large portion of the mobile internet browsing market and took a small chunk of the mobile phone pie charts as well ,but since the first gen model was strictly available to network carriers in a few countries , Apple decided to expand the market with the announcement of the iPhone 3G in 2008 followed by one of the most successful iPhones to date - the iPhone 3GS - which was one probably the iPhone to  cement Apple's hold on the market share . 

At the time of the iPhone 3GS , the mobile tech giants - Nokia , HTC , Sony Ericsson , Motorola ,RIM (Blackberry) and even Samsung were still reeling from the shock caused by the introduction of this new mobile device .And at the time , no other manufacturer had a device similar to this except for Google's Android which was still still in its infancy . Nokia was still under the impression that the whole iPhone is just a passing "fad" and instead they continued on their quest in launching more Symbian powered devices . And once the smoke cleared in 2009 , Apple had 28% of the Smartphone marketshare which was only second to RIM . 

Continuing the trend of taking over the market by storm , Apple announced  the revolutionary iPhone 4 - this is probably the iPhone that put Apple on the smartphone map - almost everyone wanted one , although people made some pun out of the phrase "you are holding it wrong" - which was attributed to Apple's antennagate issue in 2010 ,the iPhone 4 managed to sell about 50 million units , making it the most popular smartphone in that time . Apple also announced its first Tablet - the iPad in this year as well 

Things took a different turn with the death of Steve Jobs on October 5th 2011 - This incident shook Apple to its core as Steve was not only a visionary for Apple - but also its soul . But since the "show must go on " Apple kept its iPhone 4S sales up without any delays or issues and many customers posthumously nicknamed the iPhone 4S as "for steve" in honor of  the late co-founder .

By this time , competition from Android devices had flared up .Almost everyone and their mother stepped into the Android game - giving it a huge edge in terms of choice and market saturation .HTC , Samsung , Sony (No longer Ericsson) , Motorola and many others had compelling smartphones running either Android 2.3 or 4.0 .This gave Android a major edge over iOS as it had a more curated experience . The mobile market at the time also turned around as Apple was dethroned by Android (fueled by rabid fanboyism from both parties - played over the Samsung vs Apple lawsuit ) , by now the fall of Apple's mobile domination was inevitable . The iPhone 5 did bring a new design and a much needed larger display to the market , but it was still overshadowed by its peers . 

Keeping much of the design in the iPhone 5 , Apple announced the iPhone 5S in 2013- Along with the iPhone 5C which was basically a plastic skinned iPhone 5  .This marked a new beginning for Apple as it -at  the time of launch was the only phone to heavily market its Touch ID fingerprint sensor and 64Bit Apple A7 chip to the general populous . Although the 5S sold a few million less than the predecessors ,it started a trend we see even today -Fingerprint scanners  

September 2014 marked another special date for Apple , the company officially announced the iPhone 6 and 6 plus .The move to anounce two smartphones with different screen-sizes would have never been thought of by Apple engineers a few years back , but due to pressure and the surge of large screen "phablet" smartphones ,Apple decided to go with the plan ,and thus the iPhone 6 plus was born .The phone also marked a end to Apple's glass inspired backs and instead it featured a Aluminium unobody which was modern for the time , but in return it proved to be malleable if a good amount of pressure is applied to the phones chassis , this incident -dubbed "Bendgate" did cause some confusion and panic , but it was soon addressed and sales continued to climb . Although the marketshare remained in Android's favor , Apple somehow managed to secure its position as the best selling smarthphone with  over 220 million produced.  

Coming over to some recent years , Apple announced its successor to the iPhone 6 .The iPhone 6S and 6S plus -built using stronger aluminium ,the phone did not bend or even get scuffed easily - making it one of the best built iPhones to date . The phone also had capable hardware as well as a 12MP camera which upgraded the "8MP" megapixel count found on all iPhones since the 4S .The market by this time has almost been captured by Android ,This however did pressure Apple to release the iPhone SE in the first half of 2016 - a phone based on the iPhone 5S - but with 6S internals .

However the biggest change for Apple came with the release of the iPhone 7 , A product that brought new change to Apple as it axed the headphone jack in favor of full waterproofing .This change however is set to shake the industry again as every other manufacturer is now poised in axing their own in 2017 . 

In the end , the past 10 years brought major change for Apple , the company moved from a computer manufacturer to a consumer electronics company with the announcement of the iPhone and devices based on its success - the iPod Touch and iPad . The announcement of the iPhone proved to be a shock to many legacy hardware manufacturers as they planned on steaming on the successes of their past and not "think differently" in the long run ,the companies that were slow to adapt to the change were bought out , sold off or shut down .But in the end , the iPhone forced and inspired change in the industry ,it brought us capacitive  touch based interfaces , new industrial designs (which have "inspired" many ) and most importantly the ability for everyone to afford a smartphone as competition made all companies race to the bottom . Although the past 10 years were great for Apple , the next 10 may not be so as the market is already full of smartphones that almost look and work exactly the same , even Apple has embraced the mainstream smartphone trends and this begs the question ...what next? 

Written by Rakitha R for MasHD

image via -internethistorypodcast

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