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iPhone Turns 10: How It Became a Cultural Icon

iPhone Turns 10: How It Became a Cultural Icon

“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said as he introduced the first iPhone in San Francisco on January 9, 2007. Any number of CEOs have made similar claims, but Jobs’s words proved to be prophetic. Ten years after that presentation, more than a billion units have been sold, a generation of app developers has emerged to fill the App Store, and the iPhone has become a cornerstone product of one of the most valuable companies in the world. Here’s a timeline of the most important events in the decade-long history of Apple’s landmark device. When the faithful assembled at San Francisco’s Moscone Center in early January 2007, they had an inkling that Apple would be introducing something special, but they didn’t know exactly what. Ever the showman, Steve Jobs milked that uncertainty for all it was worth. He announced that Apple would be introducing three sexy products: “The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device.” And then he delivered the punch line. “These are not three separate devices, this is one device.” Despite a few naysayers—“OMG it’s the Newton reborn!” wrote one internet wag, referring to a long-dead Apple personal digital assistant—reaction to the genre-busting smartphone was overwhelmingly swift and positive. Consumer Reports wrote that for Apple to enter the smartphone market, “it would have to be with a technology that is both transformative and disruptive. The new Apple iPhone, set to ship this coming June, is poised to be that rule breaker.” When the iPhone reached customers six months later, it wasn’t the first smartphone—internet-enabled models from Palm, Nokia, Motorola and Blackberry were already on the market, mainly serving business people—but Apple’s sleek, black touchscreen device became the first smartphone that millions of people wanted in their personal lives. Consumer Reports testers liked the iPhone’s touchscreen and features such a visual voicemail, but thought it stumbled in some other respects. “In voice-quality tests, the iPhone’s performance has been undistinguished at best,” we wrote. And, surprising as it seems now, we noted that the phone had “no voice-activated dialing and offers no easy way to access frequently called numbers.” While the 3G was just an incremental update from a technical point of view, it featured one game-changing improvement: A much lower price. “Just one year after launching the iPhone, we’re launching the new iPhone 3G that is twice as fast at half the price,” said Jobs. Apple’s research revealed that despite the iPhone’s success, 56 percent of potential buyers said they didn’t buy the phone because of the price. The original price of an 8GB iPhone was $599, with an AT&T contract. (A couple of months after after release Apple dropped the price to $399.) The price of an 8GB 3G? Only $199, after Apple convinced the carrier to front a significant portion of the price.

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