What Has Changed Since the Launch of the iPhone

The month of July 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007. Samsung would claim much of the credit for growth, after the iPhone reshaped the “phone” business, as can Android.

What we sometimes overlook is just how much has changed in just those past 10 years. Mobile computing, by time of use, surpassed "PC" or large screen use. Some whole new industries now are enabled directly by smartphones (ride sharing), while many industries (retail, the restaurant business, lodging, advertising) now are powerfully shaped by mobile interactions.

At the same time, mobile-only use of internet and internet-enabled apps--though a fact in every income demographic--is more important for lower-income users, especially.

It is a subtle shift, but still a shift, that a growing portion of human and future machine uses of the internet happen not primarily because of fixed internet, but because mobile internet is available. It might also be instructive to note that narrowband apps (internet of things) might drive the next big waves of revenue and use cases for internet apps.

Include among those use cases all activities enabled by the global positioning system (location).

And it is hard to imagine that degree of change, in a single decade, were it not for the iPhone.

The overall importance of the iPhone launch, however, goes far beyond the choice of devices people make. Mobile internet access has driven revenue growth for mobile operators in developed nations, even if new subscribers and voice have continued to drive revenue in developing nations.



Over the last decade, we have seen the rise of what some call the app economy or Over the last decade, we have seen the rise of what some call the app economy, which did not exist in 2007.

That is a bit of a misnomer, but the point is that whole businesses such as Uber are directly enabled by the widespread use of smartphones and faster mobile internet access. , which did not exist in 2007. That is a bit of a misnomer, but the point is that whole businesses such as Uber are directly enabled by the widespread use of smartphones and faster mobile internet access.

Just how much some businesses will be “mobile only” or “mobile first” is a good question. Some might argue that is not presently true, and might never be true, for some activities humans conduct on devices using screens.

Similar questions might be raised about the eventual use cases for internet of things apps (some might be useful only when mobile (connected car), others might be stationary (industrial sensors, light posts, parking spaces), others will be ambient (health and fitness monitors).

The point is that although most human activities have been reshaped by the internet, only some are directly dependent on the use of smartphones and mobility.

To be sure, most shopping activities have been reshaped by people using the internet. And as the advertising business has likewise been refashioned, now mobile-based usage is producing additional changes. But Uber and other ride-sharing services would not have been possible without widespread smartphone use and faster mobile internet.

Some of you might never have owned or used a feature phone. But some of us can remember the moment we realized even our “crackberries” were no longer our own choices: it was the moment the “web” became more important than access to email. That was the moment when the browsing experience on a BlackBerry became so obviously painful that the advantages of email handling could not outweigh a more-pleasant web experience.

All that, and eventually more, were enabled, one could well argue, a decade ago when Apple launched the iPhone.




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