It’s been 15 years since Apple released what is arguably its flagship device: the iPhone. A decade and a half later, few products have managed to achieve a similar level of brand recognition.

Announced to an enthusiastic audience in 2007, the iPhone has revolutionized the way we communicate and also the way we live every day.

The big screen revolution


The iPhone was released in the United States in June 2007 and in six other countries in November.

From the launch of Mac computers in the 1970s to the iPod in 2001, Apple already knew how to engage its audience and how to encourage extraordinary levels of hype during a product launch.

A look into the past (and future) of one of the most influential devices of the 21st century

Early reviews of the iPhone were almost universally enthusiastic, applauding Apple’s attention to detail and style. The only reported problem was network connectivity, and this was a slowness problem on the telecom operators’ networks, rather than on the device itself.

Consumer appreciation for the style of the iPhone comes as no surprise. It was indicative of a burgeoning trend towards smartphones with large screens (but still mirroring the shape of a phone). The Nokia N95 was another such example that hit the market in the same year.

Apple Premieres First Apple Store in Hunan Province of China | Apple

The original iPhone offered Wi-Fi, supported 2G EDGE connectivity, and had internet download speeds of less than 500Kbps [kilobits per second] (compared to several Mbps [Megabits per second] speed today).

It was also limited to 4GB [Gigabytes] or 8GB models. That might sound pitiful compared to the 1TB models [Terabyte] options available today, but it is enough to hold hundreds of songs or videos and was revolutionary at the time.

The Apple assembly line

The iPhone 3G was launched worldwide in July 2008, with significantly improved data speeds and the addition of the Apple App Store. While it only offered 500 apps at launch, the App Store marked a significant improvement in the functionality of the phone.

And just as users got used to 3G, it was replaced by 3GS about a year later.

This regular cycle of new product releases has been critical to Apple’s success. By releasing regular updates (via full product iterations or minor feature enhancements), Apple has managed to secure an enthusiastic following, eager for new releases every year.

2019 File Photo Shows Customers Testing iPhone 11 at Apple Store in Hong Kong | AFP

Additionally, as older products were often passed down within families, Apple’s product pipeline helped it establish a multigenerational user base. This pipeline continues to operate today.

From the launch of Mac computers in the 1970s to the iPod in 2001, Apple already knew how to engage its audience and how to encourage extraordinary levels of hype during a product launch.

New approaches to old methods

Steve Jobs unveils the first iPhone | AFP

The iPhone family has improved in size, speed, and storage over its 15-year history. Some of its “new” features weren’t necessarily new to the market, but Apple was good at delivering them in a highly integrated way that “worked” (as founder Steve Jobs would say).

In 2013, the iPhone 5S introduced Touch ID, which allowed users to unlock the phone with a fingerprint. Although this was first introduced with the Fujitsu F505i in 2003, Apple has provided a solid implementation of the feature. Of course, it wasn’t long before enterprising people learned how to get around the mechanism.

The iPhone 8, released in 2017, brought Face ID. This still had some weaknesses, but it was at least safe from being unlocked with a photo.

In addition to security, the iPhone series has also produced year-over-year improvements in camera technology. While the original model sported a paltry two megapixel camera, later models featured more lenses, with the resolution increased to 12 megapixels, rivaling many digital cameras on the market.

Wireless charging was introduced with the iPhone 8 (although preceded by Samsung as early as 2011). And the bezel-less design of the iPhone X, released in 2017, is based on the capabilities of the same year’s Sharp Aquos S2.


Surrounded by Applause from Apple Store Employees, One of Early iPhone Buyers Leaves New York Store on June 29, 2007 | Reuters

However, the iPhone was not without its problems. The introduction of the iPhone 7 in 2016 saw the removal of the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and many were unhappy.

Although an adapter was initially provided to allow customers to connect regular headphones, it was only free for about two years. After that, it had to be purchased. In 2016, there were indications of a spike in wireless earphone sales. Perhaps somewhat conveniently, Apple launched its AirPods (wireless Bluetooth headphones) at the same time.

A similar change took place in 2020 with the release of the iPhone 12. Claiming that consumers had plenty of spare devices and perhaps trying to follow the green reuse program, Apple removed the chargers from the unboxing experience.

Users still got a charging cable, but it was a USB-C to Lightning cable, while previous iPhone chargers would have had a USB-A socket (the standard USB port).

The logic that iPhone users would have a box full of old chargers overlooked the fact that none of them would likely support the newer, faster USB-C cable.

So you can use your old USB-A to Lightning cable and charger to charge your shiny new phone, but you’ll be limited to slower charging speeds.


Over the years, the size of iPhones has increased significantly | Shutterstock

Over the past 15 years, the iPhone is likely to continue with annual product releases (as of this writing, many are anticipating the iPhone 14 coming later this year).

These models are likely to bring improvements in speed, weight, battery life, camera resolution, and storage capacity. However, it is unlikely that we will see many breakthrough innovations in the next few years.

The latest iPhones are already highly sophisticated minicomputers, which means that the possibilities for fundamental improvements are limited.

Perhaps the most drastic change will be the move from Apple’s proprietary Lightning connection to USB-C charging, thanks to a new directive from the European Union. And while a common power connector standard is widely considered a positive move, Apple wasn’t convinced:

We believe that regulations requiring harmonization of smartphone chargers would stifle innovation rather than encourage it. [Apple’s statement]

As display technologies evolve, Apple may transition to the flip phone design, with a fully collapsible screen.

Samsung has already put it on the market. But Apple, in true style, will likely wait until the technology (especially glass) has evolved to deliver an experience in line with what iPhone users have come to expect.

While we can’t predict what the iPhone will look like in 15 years (although some have tried), it is likely that demand for Apple products will still be there, driven by Apple’s strong brand loyalty.

Ismini Vasileiou is Associate Professor in Information Systems at De Montfort University

Paul Haskell-Dowland is Professor of Cyber ​​Security Practices at Edith Cowan University

Republished from The Conversation

Published in Dawn, EOS, July 10, 2022


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