Five years ago today the original iPhone went on sale for the first time. Six months earlier Steve Jobs had unveiled it and said that Apple wanted to reinvent the phone. A lofty ambition for a company that had never been a maker of phones before.
And now five years on, it’s clear that those ambitions were spot-on. The iPhone has been a genuinely game-changing device – and has certainly reinvented the smartphone. It’s a little tough to even remember how things were in the smartphone arena before the iPhone came along, because of how dramatically the landscape has changed since then – with every other player in the market imitating the iPhone to some degree at least ever since it was launched. Just a few examples of this:
– Before the iPhone, the vast majority of smartphones had a physical keyboard. Now how many do?
– Before the iPhone, there were no smartphones with big, glass screens as a key design feature. Now how many don’t have this feature?
– Before the iPhone, there were no multi-touch driven smartphones. Now how many are there that don’t use multi-touch?
– Before the iPhone, finding good apps for your smartphone and installing them and keeping them updated was a nightmare, and that’s putting it mildly.
– Before the iPhone, nearly every smartphone manufacturer let the cellular carriers call all the shots. The carriers would load up our devices with crapware, lag way behind on updates or never issue them for some devices, and generally contribute nothing but pain and frustration to the experience of owning a smartphone. Many smartphone makers still let this happen. Apple took the exact opposite approach and have kept the carriers at arms length since Day 1. A great, great move and one that I still feel grateful for to this day.
Our choices when looking for a smartphone today are far, far better than they were five years ago. There are a number of great devices out there to suit the needs of all sorts of different users. The iPhone is consistently at or near the top of the charts when it comes to sales numbers, usage, and customer satisfaction. Even more impressive is the fact that you’d be hard pressed to name a single major rival smartphone that doesn’t owe at least some of its design and makeup to the iPhone.
Five years old and going strong. Happy Birthday iPhone and many happy returns.