Is it possible that the first Apple iPhone is 14 years old this month?

On the one hand it seems like the iPhone has been around forever. On the other, it has only been around for 14 years and the pace of evolution in those 14 years has mind-boggling.

The original iPhone had only one rear-facing camera which could take photos and not video. There was no forward-facing camera for those all-important selfies.

  • The original iPhone storage capacity was either 4 or 8 GB and iCloud would not appear for another 4 years!
  • Sending text messages (known as SMS) was limited to 140 characters and sending photos or videos was not yet possible.
  • You could access the Google search engine and Google Maps but even though Gmail was already around, the only free email product you could use was Yahoo! and you couldn’t attach documents to emails.
  • There were no third-party apps as Apple only introduced the App Store in July 2008.

Today, the primary use for a mobile phone is no longer to make phone calls. A more accurate description would be “a personal computing and communications device” – but that’s not as catchy! Looking back, no one would have believed that mobiles would eventually overtake the desktop as the primary device for communicating over the internet. And its growth has been phenomenal. In 2020, the mobile market share exceeded desktop worldwide (56% v 42%) with more than 60% market share in Asia and Africa and growing.

The evolution of devices to include high speed data, seamless roaming, GPS, NFC, biometrics, 4K displays, and camera technology has in turn spawned whole industries and new business models, as well as forever changing the camera market, the video and audio recording markets and the fixed phone and pc market itself.

The increased usage of mobile in turn has generated the two main app stores (Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android) with combined revenue of $111 billion in 2020, a 25% increase on 2019. Just think about it, that is revenue generated from third party apps being offered in the app stores.

So, what’s next? Well right now, the roll out of 5G and its high speed, low latency bandwidth, will only push delivery of services via mobile phones to do more. The higher speed bandwidth will mean it will no longer be necessary to own a land line and virtual reality applications will no longer be restricted by speed or bandwidth. But further out the use of holographs, haptics and AR may mean moving beyond just words and pictures from underneath a glass slab.

Exciting times!