Ten years ago this week, Steve Jobs stood on stage at Macworld in San Francisco for the keynote address. It’s been ten years since that important day, and without that announcement, an entire industry would take who knows how many more years to build up than the explosion the iPhone catalyzed.
The iPhone changed the way people used their phones. In 2006, just over 3% of US consumers had a smartphone. Now they’re ubiquitous, with over 80% of the US population using one on a daily basis, for three hours a day on average. With the change in consumer behavior, major brands have adopted the smartphone as the prime method for reaching consumers with novel, engaging advertising options. Retailers both physical and online have also embraced smartphones as the perfect place for their customers to shop, compare, and purchase.
It’s easy to see the considerable hand the iPhone has had in creating and changing multiple industries over the past decade. We looked at ten facts about the iPhone to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its announcement to the world.
1. Apple has sold over 1 billion iPhones
While Apple rarely includes explicit numbers, during last year’s iPhone 7 reveal, CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple had sold over 1 billion iPhones.
2. 200 patents, 1 iPhone.
Since the iPhone was released in 2007, Apple has filed more than 200 patents relating to the iPhone’s technology. Many of these patents, like Force Touch and over-the-air updates, lead directly to new and improved ways for publishers and developers to interact with users.
3. The original iPhone project was top secret
When Steve Jobs told Scott Forstall to build the iPhone, Jobs said the team could be made up of anyone – except outside employees. Only current Apple employees could be on the project, and Forstall couldn’t tell them what they would be working on. The code name for the project was “Purple.”
4. The Macworld 2007 demo had to be highly scripted
Anyone in hardware and software knows that the first version has a few bugs. When Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, he had to follow a precise scripted sequence of inputs the team had developed to avoid crashing the phone with unintended bugs.
5. Apple’s iPhone wasn’t the first iPhone
Cisco owned the trademark for a VOIP device that allowed Skype calls without a computer. Both companies reached a settlement, and have now happily kept their rights to the name.
6. The iPhone made Google do a 180 on its phone plans
Prior to the launch of the iPhone, Google was already developing its own phone operating system. It did not plan on supporting touch screens.
As soon as Google saw Jobs’ unveiling, they went back to the drawing board. Good thing too. Whether you’re an Android fan or not, it’s tough to argue that the competition hasn’t pushed Apple onward.
7. Apple designed a landline phone with a stylus in 1983
In 1983, Apple computer developer Hartmut Esslinger designed a landline phone that used a stylus-controlled interface. It never saw the light of day.
It’s not hard to see why the project never bore fruit, but it’s an interesting footnote in Apple’s history with connected phones.
8. It started out as a tablet project
Steve Jobs himself explainted during a 2010 All Things D interview how he wanted Apple engineers to research various tablet designs with a virtual keyboard. When they came back to him with a device featuring multitouch functionality, Jobs thought that Apple could apply that technology to a phone. As Jobs told Walt Mossberg, Apple “put the tablet aside and we went to work on the phone.”
9. iPhone users are more loyal than other smartphone users
Whether is be all the stuff tied to their iTunes and iCloud account, or just the love of a familiar operating system, people stick with iPhone in huge numbers. In a survey by RBC Capital Markets, 83.4% of iPhone users said their next device would be an iPhone, compared to 64.2% of Samsung owners.
This loyalty gives app publishers a solid consumer base when iPhone owners upgrade every year or two. Apple’s support for cloud saves with iCloud data for progress has made retaining users across device generations easier than ever for publishers.
10. The iPhone has changed the way we spend time
Without the iPhone, it’s hard to predict just how we’d use mobile devices today. According to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report, the average American spends more than 3 hours a day on a smartphone. In 2007, time spent on mobile devices was so specific to phone-only activities like texting and taking actual phone calls, that reliable studies on time spent are hard to come by.
All it takes is a look around a public space to see how the iPhone has changed how we interact with the world. No longer are we just taking phone calls and texting, but email, social media, full blown games, and productivity apps have made working, playing, and being connected on the go a basic necessity for most people.
The Next 10 Years
We talk a lot about user trends and how people spend time with devices in the future, with mobile becoming the place for advertisers to reach responsive audiences, but it’s difficult to imagine just what the devices 10 years down the line might look like. In 2007, the iPhone didn’t have an App Store, the iPad was still a best-guess, and wearables weren’t on anyone’s radar. If you wanted someone else to drive you somewhere you had to take a taxi, the best games were on another handheld, your music was on an iPod or maybe a Zune, and forgetting your phone at phone was a minor inconvenience.
The mobile industry will continue to embrace the instantaneous feedback smartphones offer us. As retailers like Amazon roll out on-demand delivery services, and more and more devices connect to the Internet, smartphones will continue to become central to the way consumers interact with their favorite brands and products, control their home, and move around their cities.
What will the iPhone itself look like after 20 years? We don’t know, but we’re excited to find out.
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