So my colleague asked me to write a piece on the Apple iPhone as it’s now 6 years old. I thought, who better to ask than someone who has never owned one? I’m fiercely loyal to a couple of brands, one of which is BlackBerry, made by RIM. I did once try an iPhone, but fielding hundreds of emails a day from one just didn’t work out for me.
Steve Jobs introduces the original iPhone as a combination iPod, phone, and Internet browser. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
However, even a RIM spokesman and Luddite like me would grudgingly concede the iPhone changed everything. Phones that were pre-iPhone were made for texting, making calls and, if you really had to, browsing the Internet and sending emails. By introducing the idea of the app and an all-screen multitouch interface, the iPhone changed the future of smartphones and touch interfaces forever—arguably leading to the emergence of all-in-one PCs, tablets and Microsoft’s riposte in Windows 8.
gyro’s research with Forbes, the @Work State of Mind, showed how this technology has enabled work to permeate our life, blurring the boundaries between work and leisure. We now have the Internet (and email and social media) 24/7 at our fingertips. For 79 percent of business users, smartphones are the phone they use the most to conduct business, as compared to an office phone or home phone.
They are also encroaching on computers as well, with 34 percent of people using the smartphone more than the computer for business. In fact, 7 percent don’t even bring their laptop when they travel for business if they have their smartphone.
The iPhone has also changed our lives in these other ways:
1. Wiped out actual maps, cameras, diaries, phone books, to-do lists, music collections and this week in the UK, contributed to the decline of two major high-street retailers: HMV and Blockbuster.
2. Caused corporate IT functions to rewrite their entire device-usage policy.
3. Tied with having intimate relationships (40 percent) for being the number one thing people cannot survive without.
4. Given brands a seamless way to get in front of the right consumers at the right time with the right advertising content.
5. Driven increased response with 71 percent of smartphone users who see a TV, press or online ad doing a mobile search for more information.
6. Enabled brands to truly market their products on a personal level by bringing them to their consumer’s phone.
7. Provided us an instant outlet to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
On a fundamental level, the iPhone opened up the Internet and computer experiences to people who were reluctant to use computers (like my mum). I think it’s sometimes understated how important that first iOS really was. It was the first mass-market idiot-proof touch-to-get operating system that provided a computer experience to people without the experience or the inclination to use one.
I’ve also had a lot of conversations with mobile and smartphone users (in reference to marketing SMS and apps) about how they view mobile devices as part of their personal space. The prevailing feeling was that such devices are intrusive for work (or a brand) to call or text a personal mobile number, hence the preference for separate work and a personal mobile numbers. However, as the iPhone is so treasured (it’s not only people’s whole worlds in terms of the contents on it and the in-the-moment access to the wider world), there is greater reluctance to leave it at home. The benefits the iPhone brings is seen to outweigh the negative of work intrusion. The line between personal space and workspace seems less defined and defended these days.
The iPhone plays into that servile product/brand thing. It effectively arrives as a basic tool for you to customise with apps to create the kind of mobile device that suits your lifestyle. One of Nokia’s many mistakes was to persist for so long in trying to make a different mobile phone per lifestyle.
As a result, has Apple set the bar too high for itself? Where can it go next? Is Apple losing its “cool” edge the more it develops and launches? I can’t help thinking that if Steve Jobs were still alive, he’d pick up on this and slow things down a little. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but it does feel like Apple is starting to capitalise massively on the success of what it has created, which isn’t a very Apple-like trait.
In recent weeks, the share price of the suppliers for iPhone parts has fallen due to Apple reducing orders. It appears, after six revolutionary years, the “Mac-lash” is coming.
Happy birthday, iPhone.
Danny Turnbull is managing director of gyro in Manchester
Follow Danny on Twitter @TurnbullDanny
Follow gyro Manchester @gyroMCR