A great deal has been written about the iPhone and its phenomenal pedigree of engineering and design. And with Sunday, June 29 bringing the seventh anniversary of its original release in 2007, there’s been even more talk surrounding the groundbreaking device. After seven years, eight model iterations and an almost blanket global reach, the iPhone has sold over 500 million units to date. There’s no doubt that Apple has completely redrawn the mobile landscape and continues to lead on innovation with a device that has fundamentally changed our lives, and perhaps fundamentally changed the very nature of society and human interaction.
It’s easy to take for granted the little pocket-sized device that has so effortlessly become an extension of our lives, but pause for a minute and consider this: In 2014, 24/7 Internet means you have immediate and simple access to more information than ever before in history, whenever and wherever you want. From the banal and trivial to life changing; recipes, news, trivia, music, movie times, flight information, traffic, shopping. You can monitor your garden while you’re in the office or easily see your newborn from across the world. Heck you can even order a pizza while you’re in the bath and pay for it all from your iPhone. Today, you have more ways to connect and communicate, more information and knowledge at your fingertips than John F. Kennedy had available with a room full of generals and experts at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
At the iPhone’s launch, Steve Jobs said: “iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” And he was right. Even though, seven years on, the mobile device landscape has become a much more crowded space than perhaps even the seemingly prescient Jobs could have predicted, it’s arguably all because of iPhone.
It’s not just that the iPhone (including iOS and iTunes) dramatically changed the way we use our phones, it fundamentally changed the way we communicate and interact with each other and the world around us.
Because the iPhone was (and still is) so intuitive to use, millions of people across the globe have changed the way they buy and listen to music, stream movies and TV, connect to a myriad of other devices, and share more and more each day. Once you’ve used an iPhone, the door is shut on the past; it’s hard to imagine a time when you had to go to a store to buy music and movies on bits of plastic, open your laptop to check Facebook or fish a camera out of your bag to take a photo.
Think about all the amazing ways your life has changed thanks to the hordes of innovative app developers working to leverage the power of the mobile Internet. Digital publishing and RSS have changed the way we consume, produce, and understand news. Google Earth allows us a minute detail view of every square inch of the planet, in our hands. Uber has redefined the taxi space. Wearable technologies integrate with your iPhone to track everything from your heart rate to your sleep cycles. You can sit in on a Harvard Degree course thanks to iTunesU, or examine the night sky with Google Sky Map.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all so deeply woven into the fabric of our lives that it’s unimaginable to think of a world without seamless constant contact. Facebook, for example, says that their servers process more than 750 terabytes of data per day. While not all of this comes from iPhone users, it’s the mobile Internet that has driven growth at such an astronomical rate. Today, 75% of Facebook users are on a mobile device, and it’s the iPhone that started it all. It was the game changer that allowed millions of us around the world to integrate always-on-Internet into our lives and tear off the shackles of the desktop and laptop.
Arguably, without the iPhone and iOS, much of this would not be possible. They laid the foundation that so much of our connected world is built upon. At the risk of sounding grandiose, the iPhone (and the swath of cheap derivatives in its wake) is the great leveler that grants anyone entry into a brave new world augmented for the better by technology. Think of the last time you looked at a paper map…
With the iPhone, Apple has given us a revolutionary device, the sunrise of the smartphone era, but it’s much more than awesome electronics. It was the first snowflake in an avalanche of imagination and boundless creativity that has given each of us a hand in changing the future. More than just a revolutionary and magical product, the iPhone gives each of us the tools to do and share everything we could possibly imagine, even if it’s as simple as a photo of a cat in a box.