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The iPhone turns 10 – How it changed the world of tech and business in a decade

10 years ago on this day, Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone. The device, which was greeted with jokes from competitors, went on to define the industry.

“So… Three things: A widescreen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary mobile phone. And a breakthrough internet communications device. An iPod… a phone… and an internet communicator… An iPod, a phone… are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device! And we are calling it iPhone”, that’s what Steve Jobs said when he unveiled the iPhone on January 9, 2007.

Of course, there were smartphones before the iPhone. Up until this point though they were an exclusive property of the businessman and the corporate world. People didn’t see the need for a smartphone in their everyday lives. The iPhone gave them more than a few reasons for the opposite. People flocked to the device. They waited in lines even before the sales have started just to get the phone.

The tech surprise of the decade

It took other companies quite some time until they were able to produce something that comes close to the iPhone. It seemed like everyone were caught surprised by Apple. Even today, the iPhone remains the single most popular smartphone. And that’s despite the falling sales of the phone amid lack of innovation. No matter if you love the iPhone or hate it, one thing is for sure. It did change the tech world.

It helped make technologies mainstream. The iPhone shaped how people look at tech and how they experience it. It changed the way companies introduce and sell their products and services. Apple prides itself on selling ideas, not devices. They show you what you can do with your iPhone. Where you can use it. How cool it would be. And they leave all the technical details in the background only for people who really care about those things. They reshaped their retail stores and turned them into an experience beyond simply going there to buy a device or complain about a malfunction.

The world of tech also experienced a huge disruptive wave. We could argue that mobile devices were going to be THE way to go without the iPhone, too. But nobody expected it will all happen so fast and reach such huge numbers in so little time.

And the demand is still there, but the hardware is reaching is limit. It’s harder and harder to create something profoundly different in the smartphone market. This is why the industry is looking with hope at VR, AR and the Internet of Things to bring upon new exciting feature which can be tied with smartphones.

The iPhone factor

But it’s not only the hardware. The bigger shift was in software. The real change the iPhone brought was the world of Apps. So many apps. Before that we didn’t expect or want our phones to be able to run complex games and applications. We had computers for that. We still have them, but today we turn first to our phone when we need a software too for pretty much anything. Today we can edit pictures and videos on our phones and we can play games that 20 years ago would challenge most computers.

Today is unthinkable not to have a presence on mobile. Companies from all industries need software developers for this very reason. It’s among the reasons why there is such huge gap between the number of skilled devs out there and the number the companies actually need.

Apps aren’t simply changing the way we communicate, play, shop or you name it. They are changing the way we do business, offer services and create products. It is why today we need to be on top of our digital game more so than ever. It has also boosted the IT training world, giving it a lot of new opportunities. These indirect ways are among the reasons why the iPhone changed a lot more than we think it did.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Eduardo Woo