Five years ago, at the Macworld conference, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the (what Apple fanboys dub as the ‘Jesus Phone’) iPhone. It was sleek, black and simple. But it was just not a phone but something much more than that—it was the beginning of a cult, of a revolution in mobile phone history. The phone screamed Apple and came into the market with a lot of speculations and expectations from both the public and the heads at Apple. The iPhone, for one thing, was quite expensive and Apple guys weren't sure how good the phone would be for business. But iPhone proved to be an amazing and of course a revolutionary addition to the world of mobile phones, at $599, with no physical keyboard, no 3G, requirement for a PC with iTunes to set it up, a special headphone jack and a new OS (iOS), it was just not a phone, it was an experience, the great Touch and Feel Experience. People were skeptical at first. In fact, the then Microsoft CEO went as far as claiming that the iPhone was a waste of time and money and would make no significant change in the market—seems hilarious today, isn't it?
The first iPhone was flawed in ways more than one. Yet, the device was elegant and beautiful in its own way. It supported multi-touch and loaded webpages like they load on PCs and the 3.5” touchscreen was an eye candy. Apple encouraged developers to develop apps for its iOS which led to the spawning of an entirely new community of iPhone App developers.
iPhone 2, iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S came out in quick succession, with features always better than the last and more lucrative. The design, however, remains the same—consistent and simplistic. The iconic rounded touchscreen slab with one physical home button has withstood the test of time and ever changing market trends. The iPhone is a smartphone made for the people. The apps (like Mail and IM/SMS) are exceedingly simplistic and arrange themselves according to frequency of usage. Even after 5 generations of iPhones, the design and the accessories have remained the same (including the charger/PC connect jack). There is nothing overtly complex about the iPhone—it has remained freakishly blunt, yet extremely graceful and sophisticated. It does not intimidate users, rather welcomes them with a warm hug and fits snuggly in their palms waiting to be used.
Apple has outfitted the iPhone with new technologies over the years. 3G was not given in iPhone 1 or 2 because Jobs found that WiFi being widely available and faster, 3G was not needed. However, it was later added in the 3GS along with 4G LTE to be expected in the next iPhone. The App Store was another feature which was added and let users download and install apps for entertainment or increasing productivity, what ever it might be. Then came the iRetina display, Siri (the voice assistant), iCloud Storage and so on. The camera for one thing, has undergone huge improvement since the 2MP fixed focus variant of the original iPhone.
The road to immortality hasn’t been smooth for the iPhone. With constant and consistent competition from brands like Microsoft, Blackberry, Nokia and Samsung (with their Windows Mobile, Symbian, Android and RIM challenging the iOS), Apple has still maintained a considerable share of the mobile phone market, in fact they have created their own niche. The next five years seem to be very eventful for the company with the launch of iPhone 5 on the horizon (with an alleged iRetina transparent display!). We’ll just say that the iPhone will remain a revolutionary product—R.I.P. Steve, what you did is great!