Apple’s initial foray into the smartphone market was tantamount to Burger King deciding to build an automobile. The company had been built on its Macintosh computers and stepping into the fray with (then) formidable market leader RIM’s BlackBerry devices seemed like a boneheaded corporate decision. Only five short years have elapsed since the original iPhone hit the shelves and in that half-decade, RIM has effectively imploded, Apple is the undisputed Lord of the smartphone world and even gargantuan brands like Google and Microsoft are trying desperately to keep up… and failing. Just how much did the iPhone change the online world? As it turns out, plenty!
BlackBerry Was a Tool for Execs, Not Regular People
In an age where massive and unprecedented amounts of information bludgeons us from all directions it is not surprising that people have short memories and tend to view the current status quo as being applicable to the past as well. This loss of perspective is clearly evident in the smartphone world where these mobile devices have become so thoroughly and seamlessly integrated into our daily lives that it is simply inconceivable to realize that there was a time when we managed to get along without them. That was the world where the original iPhone debuted. The BlackBerry had been around for years, but the complexity and cost of the device kept it primarily as a tool for jetsetting executives, not everyday common people. What set the iPhone apart is that it was the first smartphone that could actually surf websites in a similar manner to a laptop or desktop computer. No longer was the on the go user limited to cut-down mobile-only websites but whatever you could see on your PC you could access on your smartphone but in a smaller display.
3G, 3GS, 4… the Beat Goes On
With the premiere of the iPhone 3G the following year, the floodgates were opened. Finally users could access the internet at speeds comparable to their desktop devices and the world would never be the same again. The 3GS later added “Speed” via faster processor and doubled RAM capacity. The 4 was a clear step forward due to a comprehensive hardware and OS redesign and it was a remarkable device overall that unfortunately will always be saddled with the “hold the phone this way” debacle of inconsistent antenna function. Even the comic vision of iPhone users being forced to hold their phones the way a chef would hold a hot egg could not diminish the impact of the first retina display, an ultra-high resolution screen that later would make the iPad 3 such an irresistible buy.
Siri Is Effective, Just Spare the Jokes
If it works don’t mess with it, so launching the iPhone 4S meant a dearth of cosmetic redesign. However, much was changed underneath the familiar exterior. Apple improved on their rather limiting camera, the slowish processor and the very controversial external antenna but did not embrace 4G LTE capability to their phones. However, the 4S will always be known as the first phone with Siri, the talking personal assistant. Even though it’s been the brunt of countless jokes, the bottom line is that 4S users report that they use Siri frequently, particularly for dictation.
Is the 5 a 4-Incher?
What’s next on the iPhone horizon? iOS 6 is assured to bring increased in-depth Siri synching with many more features and apps as well as a wealth of upgrades to Maps, Lost Mode, the Safari browser and a whole suite of features specific to the booming Chinese market. However, this is all primarily software based, and disappointingly, there is not much scuttlebutt available yet as to what’s on Apple’s mind in order to rev up the 5 version of its iPhone. The most talked about rumor indicates an upgrade from the current 3.5 inch display to a full 4 inch one and possibly the introduction of the long awaited 30-pin dock connector.
By catering specifically to creating a BlackBerry for the rest of us, Apple proved its genius once again. RIM is in ruins, Apple’s at $600+/share and the world has been forever changed.