Every single day another next-gen touch screen mobile phone seems to be coming out. The barrage of information being thrown at us can be dizzying: as well as touch screen there’s dual core, retina displays, HDMI mirroring and a slew of other technical terms. There are reviews saying X phone is the best, another saying Y phone wipes the floor with it.
When did things get so complicated?
Once upon a time though, something a bit different happened, something that was simple, something that defines mobile phone history: Apple released the iPhone. Now that we have the benefit of hindsight I thought I’d do a quick retrospective on it, and take us back to those heady days when the iPhone was the juiciest, freshest fruit on the branch. Looking back on the ridiculous and seismic success that has followed, it seems to me there are three main overriding causes:
1) The design.
The look of any product plays an important role, especially with smartphones as they strive to combine art, science and technology. The iPhone changed the way people view phones, they looked… cool. They didn’t look like other phones you could buy. A key part of this was the touch screen. By removing the keypad the iPhone was just a shiny screen. It looked more architecturally eye-catching, and without the keypad the last vestige of the ‘over-sized calculator’ look had been banished.
2) The touch screen.
Apple didn’t invent the touch screen with the iPhone but they did perfect it. They used a non-smudge glass, they refined the display to give a clarity never been seen, and they created a touch screen that was instantly responsive, without any lag at all. The reason all other phone companies are jumping on the bandwagon is that the public loved not only the touch screen technology, but they loved how intuitive and fast the iPhone reacted to their touch.
3) The App Store.
The Apple App store is a phenomenal success – Apple recently announced they had sold their 15 billionth app through their store! And the way that the iPhone integrates with the App Store makes it incredibly easy for iPhone users to get the latest apps. What kind of apps can you get for your iPhone? The selection is mind-blowing: there are over 420,000 apps in their store. From puzzle games to location devices (such as finding your nearest bank or coffee shop), to checking cinema or theater listings, all the way to apps that let you download eBooks and comics to your phone.
More than all the clever and stylish features and design of the iPhone, something it has brought about is even more important: before the iPhone you had your phone and your laptop/PC. On one you did you phoning, texting and maybe emailing, and on the other you did everything else. Then the iPhone happened and you could do everything you formerly did on your computer on your iPhone. It meant you could go to town, go to work, go on a night out, and yet always have an opportunity to go online. It meant that shoppers could search the internet for the best products and compare prices while in the store, to know if they were paying over the odds, or buying a lousy product. This change to our lifestyle has empowered people and changed the way we live.
Now obviously the iPhone (any model, any name) is not close to perfect. The biggest drawback is the limitations Apple impose on their users. After the ludicrous DRM debacle you’d hope Apple would have figured out that trying to tie people’s hands behind their backs doesn’t make them happy, satisfied customers. Yet here we are – in a world where Apple only deals with very few phone companies around the world, and will only let you use their own App Store or MP3 Store with the iPhone. Myopic Apple obsessives like to think of Apple as the anti-Microsoft -well, news for you. They’re not. In some ways they’re even worse.
To sum up, the iPhone is more than just another phone. It’s the phone that changed phoning. It’s the phone that made the keypad as antiquated as the 8-Track, it’s the phone that enabled you to carry a computer around with you in your pocket, it’s the phone that opened the world up to apps. It’s a ground-breaker – a Beatles, a Star Wars, a Simpsons. It blazed a trail and the whole world was forced to follow, to copy and to imitate. For all their shortcomings, Apple created a masterpiece.
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