It’s hard to believe that 7 years ago to the day, Steve Jobs got up on stage and announced a phone that changed the course of mobile phones / mobile computing as we know it. The iPhone.
Written off by many including Steve Ballmer in one of his most famous quotes “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share” the iPhone really did change not only the mobile phone arena but also mobile computing in general. Let’s not forget that at first the iPhone was limited to pretty much a touch screen interface phone with “just” a browser and e-mail. We’d have to wait for several iterations before the app store.
My own personal recollections from that time was an era of stylus interfaces and being wowed by a windscreen wiper animation on my HTC Touch Diamond, Back then Windows CE was the main choice for “power” phones. House were spend (read wasted) choosing a custom rom to eek out every bit of performance. No matter how flashy the overlay interface you were never more than a click or a regular crash away from that crappy interface.
My first iPhone came about at the time of the iPhone 3. I had succumbed to the marketing talk. What was this internet on a phone, apps malarkey you’d be hearing about on tech sites? The very first time I went to a website that rendered complete as it would on my PC I was thinking to myself “is that it”. In my naivety I had no idea what it meant to have a webpage fully rendered in all its glory on the small mobile device or what it actually took to do that. Even then Apple were slammed. Those chequeboards which rendered when you scrolled out of the viewing area annoyed people with “why does it do that, it can’t be that hard”. Those are the sample people with very little understanding of programming or what it took to get to that point in a mobile world.
Have dabbled with some “tablets” before such as the Nokia N800 promising a full featured web experience but even that didn’t come close to what the iPhone could do it a more convenient form factor with no reliance on tethering or wifi.
The iPhone came to not only change what we expected from a phone but also shook up the entire web industry bringing in a new way of thinking about web design. Instantly website is designed for WAP became obsolete, rendered completely useless as a mobile experience. Let’s face it people only used WAP because we had to, not out of a choice.
It took a while but when the rest of the handset market finally caught up suddenly websites came to realise the power of being readable in the mobile market. From m.website.com domain names design marched forward, leading us to responsive design. Looking back with a benefit of hindsight it’s not that hard to see where this all originated from.
The browsing experience was just one element of what would make the iPhone so successful. How did it manage to overtake the likes of Blackberry and Nokia with its offerings? There was nothing in the iPhone that any other handset maker couldn’t have done if they had wanted to. Was there really no other design department who could come up with similar concepts or was it just Apple dared to bet it all?
Spinning forward I wouldn’t say Apple has the best technology in all areas but select areas certainly. Apple now design their own custom Cpu’s based on arm technology. Who’d had seen that back then. 64 bit’s on a CPU might seem like madness right now yet it’s another step forward and that is one thing Apple know’s how to do. Move things forward and be darned with legacy (to an extent. Mavericks is massively backwards compatible)
Sure there are faster cpu’s out there, phones with more ram, better cameras, you can hark on about removeable storage and yet people see past the numbers and get on with the most important thing. Enjoying the experience of using their phones.