Five years of the iPhone (and the modern smartphone era)

This week marked the fifth anniversary of the original iPhone coming onto the market.

Yes, there’s much being written about this anniversary, and how much it’s changed both Apple and our lives overall. For Apple, the iPhone quickly became their top-selling device, pushed Apple into becoming one of the US’ most valuable companies, lessened the iPod’s importance, and ushered in the modern smartphone era, “apps” and all. The iPhone’s operating system (now called iOS) has also changed Apple’s computing hardware, as Apple’s folded some iOS features into OS X (granted, the Classic Mac OS had “desk accessories,” of which modern apps are the “2.0” version of desktop accessories).

Competitors of course have come along, most prominently Google with rival smartphone OS Android. The quality of smartphones, plus their versatility as devices, have also greatly improved since 2007, with a myriad of affordable options to choose from.  Of course, this has had the side effect of reducing in prominence other devices, particularly the stand-alone casual point-and-shoot camera and video camera. And finally, the smartphone’s helped to make the Internet a much more portable and ubiquitous presence, for better (such as smartphones’ role in the recent “Arab Spring”) or for worse (for some, yet another device to distract us).

Smartphones have come a long way since my first post in 2007 about the original iPhone announcement, plus my initial impressions of seeing the iPhone in person. iPhone prices have come way down (from $500), there’re several models available, and they’ve become ubiquitous (even my mother has one). Of course, given my Linux usage, I opted for an alternative to the iPhone once things reached the point that I decided a smartphone might be useful after all, first going with the Palm Pre (which ultimately was a disaster), then moving to a prepaid Android smartphone. As for smartphones being useful, they have been for me—easily the most useful gadget I’ve purchased. I suppose I’ve come a long way from dismissing smartphones as “[my] not needing to use everything but the kitchen sink in an on-the-go device.”

Mashable.com has an article about the iPhone’s fifth anniversary.

(Updated 4/12/15)

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