“Apple – remarked Steve Jobs at the launch of the iPhone on January 9, 2007 – was very lucky. In 1984 we introduced the Macintosh, which changed not just Apple, but the entire computer industry. In 2001 we launched the iPod, which has not only changed the way we listen to music, but has transformed the entire music industry (…). And now let’s reinvent the telephone ”. The Apple smartphone arrived in stores almost six months later, on June 29, 2007: fifteen years later, it is one of the few inventions to have truly changed the world, and not just that of telephony.
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Today few seem to remember the criticisms that the iPhone received at its debut: it was not compatible with Flash software, the battery was not removable, MMS could not be sent and received, the skeptics said. How little those objections mattered, and how different the world of technology is today: Jobs aimed to sell one million units by the end of 2007; not even ten years later, in July 2016, Tim Cook announced the billionth iPhone sold. By way of comparison, it took 131 years to get one billion cars, and 27 years to get to the billionth computer. Today, iPhones sold are over two billion, and more than half are in operation. Thus, the success of the Apple smartphone is even more surprising, also considering that not everyone was able to grasp the revolutionary significance of the announcement: 2007 really seems like another era, not so much and not only because technology has made enormous progress, but also because the protagonists of the hi-tech world are very different.
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Google is a giant (thanks also to Android, which would not have existed without the iPhone), Nokia has disappeared and returned, after many ups and downs, but it is a name among many, BlackBerry is a Wikipedia entry, while various Chinese manufacturers are struggling to conquer it. space left free by Huawei. Samsung is the first manufacturer, but Apple is closely followed, and sometimes even to the top. Microsoft, excluded from the smartphone market, has changed its skin and business model. Steve Ballmer, CEO of the Seattle company at the time, commented skeptically on the news: “There is no way the iPhone will have a significant market share,” he said. He seems to have regretted it.
As had already happened with the iPod, the iPhone did not invent anything, but completely redefined the smartphone market, so much so that today even the most advanced of competitors is still recognizable as a descendant of the first model, which arrived in American stores on 29 June 2007. Not in Italy, however: the story began here in July 2008, with the iPhone 3G model, which soon became an object of desire, not only among hi-tech gadget maniacs.
The hardware – however revolutionary – was not everything, and in full Apple spirit, the Apple smartphone was conceived as the center of an ecosystem of software and services. The first model did not allow you to install real apps and was linked to a single operator, AT&T: unlocking it was not an easy task, because it risked making it unusable forever. Yet many tried, and many succeeded, and even managed to install other programs besides those provided by Apple. Jobs had the merit of soon realizing this trend: he formally fought it with updates and blocks, but in reality, with the next model, he made it his own. The App Store was born, and the real app revolution began. Which today is a new economy, and for millions of people around the world it is the first source of income.
“It’s a big screen iPod, a telephone, a device that allows you to communicate over the internet,” Steve Jobs told the audience at MacWorld in San Francisco. With the iPhone, he added, Apple was five years ahead of everyone else. And it is true that Apple’s smartphone at the beginning was without competitors. A constant success, with queues at the stores for each launch and sales always growing, at least until the second quarter of 2016, when there was the first decline.
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For several years, in the Apple catalog, the iPhone is no longer just one, but a family: four models, in three different screen sizes, plus a cheap version, the iPhone SE. The offer is expected to change next fall, with the iPhone 14, which apparently will mark the demise of the mini. Over time, Tim Cook has been able to make a potential limitation a strength: if it is true that Apple’s turnover largely depends on the iPhone, it is also true that there are more and more services related to the iPhone. So, even if the latest models do not sell as expected, there is still a steady stream of revenue guaranteed by those who use Apple Music, iCloud, App Store, Apple TV and so on. But the iPhone sells very well, and if it weren’t for the chip shortage that plagues the entire electronics industry, it would sell even better.
From the chip of the iPhone derive the processors that equip the Mac, which replaced those of Intel. Today they have reached the second generation and put Apple one step ahead of all other competitors for high performance and low consumption: so the market share of Apple’s computers grows, while competitors are discounting the slowdown in post-pandemic sales.
And from the same M2 chip, according to the latest rumors, the processor of the augmented reality glasses will be born that are now coming (they could be released as early as next year. It will be for Apple the opening of a new sector, which will certainly remove a few percentage points from the smartphone. , and that over time could also become a significant part of the budget, so for Apple, the future after the iPhone will still be marked by the iPhone.
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