From Apps to Music, Apple's iPhone Transformed How We Do Business and How We Communicate
On June 29th this year, Apple celebrated the 10th year of the iPhone. In just 10 years, the iPhone has radically altered the world. When Steve Jobs announced the launch of the iPhone at MacWorld in 2007, he called it revolutionary, saying that it would 'reinvent the phone' and would change everything. While there was a lot of hype surrounding its launch, the effect that the iPhone would have on business and communications, was surprisingly underestimated.
Before the iPhone, you had to carry a camera to take photos, use your laptop or desktop computer to write anything longer than a paragraph in an email with ease and call a cab by energetically waving your arms in front of traffic. After the launch of the iPhone, you could do all of that and much more on one single device. The iPhone offered intelligent and personalized options for you.
A Bonafide Game Changer
The iPhone has turned out to truly be a game-changer for how hundreds of millions of people communicate all over the world. It has opened the door to accelerated learning and swift communication, transforming industries and become the platform from which so many new revolutionary companies (Airbnb, Instagram, Snapchat and Uber to name a few) have launched. It also has laid waste to other industries and demanded that both hardware and software companies deliver at a higher level for the consumer.
Apple's iPhone transformed the way we communicate on a daily basis. It ignited the rise of mobility and smartphone usage, while creating a personalized experience for every iPhone user. This remarkable consumer electronics device has had a massive impact upon mobility, computing, design, entertainment and the tech industry as a whole over the last decade. Let's take a closer look.
Personalized User Experience
The iPhone revolutionized how we communicate by offering a single device that enabled you to make phone calls, listen to music, search the Internet, check your email, take and send photos and videos, get directions and more - all on one device. Singlehandedly, it eliminated the need for standalone music players, GPS devices, cameras, notepads and carrying your laptop with you. It simplified things that you do on a daily basis in one device in a personalized way, where you could decide what was relevant and what was not.
The iPhone turned your cell phone into so much more than just a way of making phone calls. You had information at your fingertips 24/7 anywhere you were. This prompt access informed your decisions and kept you connected wherever you were. The iPhone's ease of use paved the way for:
• Individual access and empowerment
• Touch interactivity
• Using an on-screen keyboard on the smartphone itself
• Fast adoption of software
• Fast adoption of cloud computing
• Fast adoption of social networking
Since the iPhone was easy to use unlike other smartphones available at the time, consumers immediately expected better quality in other products as well. Every smartphone company had to immediately adapt or die. Motorola, Palm and Windows Mobile lost sales immediately and even companies like Blackberry that had thrived on sales of their smartphone devices with tiny QWERTY keyboards to business executives, suffered a significant decline over time.
While the iPhone and subsequent smartphones did not start social media, they popularized its use, especially apps like What's App, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and more. By the end of March this year, over 1.94 billion users checked into Facebook at least once a month.
More people spend time on their smartphones too, with as high as 73.8 hours/month per user in June 2016, according to comScore. Heavy mobile usage also has helped spur the growth of tech companies who benefit both from engagement and advertising. In 2007, there was only one tech company in the top five list of most valuable stock market companies. Today, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet (Google) and Facebook dominate earnings. Both Alphabet and Facebook get a lot of advertising revenue from mobile ads, with over 49% of Facebook's revenue in Q1 of 2017 from online advertising, just as the popular social media site reached over two billion users. This has also decimated established and traditional news companies that have not been able to compete as effectively on their own as advertisers switch to mobile ad spending with Alphabet and Facebook.
That activity has been a catalyst for the growing dominance of tech-industry titans. Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Facebook Inc. now get the bulk of their advertising revenue from mobile ads. Together with Apple, Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc., they are the five most valuable companies on the stock market today.
Ignited Rise of Mobility and Use of Smartphones
Given how cumbersome existing smartphone devices were pre-iPhone, it was easy to understand why consumers failed to adopt them. They were not easy to use nor were they well designed. With the arrival of the iPhone, the stylus and add-on keyboard was eliminated and instead the whole device was touch-sensitive. The world of cell phones was changed forever and consumers now expected thinner phones, better quality screens, touch interaction and multiple functionality.
Businesses adopted iPhone usage rapidly, recognizing that their employees were already using iPhones. The iPhone dramatically changed the way people communicate, learn, play and work. With an iPhone in hand, an employee could work from home or be on site with a client and still have access to company data and be connected. The iPhone popularized the use of apps, web tools and mobility. In many companies, both the owners and CEOs wanted iPhones after seeing their employees using them. Businesses were thus forced to adapt, but quickly benefited from increased information flow and providing data in the field for their employees, using popular apps and web tools from Microsoft Office to Salesforce, IBM and SAP.
Prior to the launch of the iPhone, PC sales averaged 400 million a year. However as the iPhone's popularity spread, other smartphones also were developed and launched to provide information, productivity tools, communication and entertainment options. The PC market has continued to decline over the years, while tablets and smartphone usage has gone upwards. Many PC companies went out of business subsequently and the industry consolidated around major players such as HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer and Apple. The iPhone's popularity and adoption made it easier to launch the iPad subsequently.
Telecom companies such as AT&T and Verizon also had to adapt, as consumers stepped away from traditional landlines and adopted smartphones. All of these companies now offer both information and entertainment options as well as data services. They have also aligned themselves with smartphone companies to keep consumers engaged. The payphone also has disappeared from most public spaces in the United States as smartphone usage has gone up. In the first year of the launch of the iPhone, wireless service revenue among the top U.S. carriers grew 5.9% in 2008, according to Fidelity Investments.
Catapulted Use of Apps and Launched a Billion Dollar New App Industry
Just a few days prior to the iPhone becoming available for purchase in July 2007, Steve Jobs announced that the new smartphone would support third-party applications through the Internet. This decision by Apple was tremendous, as it led to the development of a developer-led ecosystem and the birth of the app industry.
Prior to the iPhone, apps were classified as Web 2.0 tools and not in common use. With the launch of the App Store via an update to iTunes in July 2008, Apple introduced a new way to shop for information and entertainment with apps built by third-party developers. The App Store became a billion-dollar enterprise rapidly, supporting the creativity and works of app developers worldwide. Other platforms like Google and Microsoft had to adapt fast and build their own app stores as their consumers now wanted access to the same apps on their smartphone devices.
There were app stores before Apple's own App Store but they were not well designed and installing apps was problematic. With the App Store, you could quickly discover, purchase and install an app. It was easy to also uninstall an app at any time.
Apple insisted on high quality standards for all apps submitted to their App Store, ensuring both the integrity of their own brand as well as any apps coming through it. This in turn, built trust and helped in the rapid growth of the App Store. The App Store split revenue between Apple and developers and offered a new marketplace, building an entire new industry. By January 22, 2011, Apple had over 10 billion app downloads.
Now enterprising developers could reach consumers directly through apps they had designed and developed. Today the App Store has everything from fitness to games, information, shopping, entertainment and dating with a plethora of choices for every category. Bigger companies also benefit by being able to offer personalized service to their customers in a streamlined way. For example, an airline carrier can quickly provide flight check-in and information through their own app while restaurants can offer online ordering and banks are able to provide quick deposits without even going to an ATM.
Changes brought about by the launch of the App Store include:
• transformation of software distribution and usage
• new app economy
• accelerated learning
• launch of apps that revolutionized industries
Spawned Industry-Changing Apps
Apps like Airbnb, Uber, Instagram and Snapchat were built upon the popularity of the iPhone (that in turn, popularized smartphone usage) and revolutionized industries from rentals and real estate to transportation, photo sharing and messaging.
For example, Uber's entire business model is built upon having a smartphone. Both the driver and the passenger need a smartphone to use their app and book a ride.
Increased the Speed of Communication
Fast forward to today, and we have 10-year-old app developers! New generations are growing up in a post-iPhone and app world, where it is a seamless part of their lives. This has accelerated learning by young kids and adults as well. In fact, some third-world countries in Africa have made the leap to smartphone usage without going through the traditional telecommunications infrastructure setup common among more developed nations.
Accelerated the Use of Apps Elsewhere
The iPhone accelerated the use of apps everywhere, from your iPad to now your TV and car. Using a touch interface and on-screen keyboard has become familiar to consumers and this trend is only going up.
Popularized Use of Accelerometers, Orientation Sensors and Gorgeous Graphics
The first iPhone's built in accelerometer offered motion capabilities. Current models include gyroscope and compass as well that help create amazing effects. This has been adopted in many apps and also in gaming.
The gaming industry has also changed dramatically. Pre-iPhone, most games were limited to consoles. While console use is still popular, gaming apps are in high demand with touch-based gameplay. For example, Niantic's augmented reality-angled Pokémon Go alone has been downloaded over 750 million times while Nintendo's super popular Mario franchise had 500 million sales over its lifetime. Super Mario is now available in the App Store.
At the WWDC in June this year, Apple also shared its AR Kit for immersive app experiences.
Transformed the Music, Film and Video Industries
The iPhone made it easy to listen to music on the same device that you made phone calls from, checked your email, surfed the web and organized your day. It built upon the popularity of the iPod and made it easier to buy a single song instead of a whole album and also get recommendations for other music you might like.
With gorgeous graphics, the iPhone made it easier to watch movies on the go, providing a platform for video delivery. This in turn forced movie and television studios to expand distribution so that anyone could purchase, download and stream movies to their mobile devices. The iPhone also helped existing companies like YouTube (now part of Google), Netflix and Hulu reach more people and become powerhouses themselves.
Reinvented Map Usage and Camera Access
Prior to the iPhone, Garmin was the de facto favorite for maps. They enjoyed high sales and usage despite a price point of $700 and up in 2005. However, with the arrival of the iPhone, consumers could get directions right on their phone and navigate using this touch-friendly device. Garmin and other GPS providers were forced to branch out into other markets like wearables to survive as sales plummeted. Other smartphones (Android for example) have also developed enhanced mapping capabilities with voiceover options as well.
The iPhone and other smartphones have simultaneously made photo sharing more accessible and relevant, while dramatically altering the camera industry. Eastman Kodak went out of business while even digital cameras sales dropped 80% from 2009 to 2016. Interestingly enough, today photos are not printed as much but mostly posted, shared and tweeted. This in turn, impacted the rise of Snap Inc., the messaging app that had a $20 billion IPO.
Changing Apple Itself
One of the biggest and most transformative changes that the iPhone has had is on Apple itself, that has gone from being known as a computer company to just Apple Inc. While the iPhone remains one of its bestselling products with record profits and 1.3 billion iPhones sold per year, Apple has now built an entire ecosystem of related products and its supporting App store.
The iPhone truly changed the world and may be the world's most influential consumer electronics device ever. It changed the way people interact and even see the world. This year, marking its 10th anniversary, Apple is expected to launch an updated version of its iPhone in September or early fall. We're eager to see what comes next!