The launch of the iPhone was, by industry consensus, a disruptive innovation: Eager consumers lined up to buy the high-priced ($599 for the most popular model, plus a two-year contract on the AT&T network) device. It took just 74 days for Apple to sell one million iPhones, n87 and less than two years to sell 21 million worldwide. The iPhone was introduced on a proprietary platform, controlled by Apple and barring third party software, with U.S. service offered via an exclusive service agreement with AT&T, and in 2008, Apple opened an App Store, creating a platform for independent applications, each approved by Apple and subject to a fee equal to 30% of revenues.
For four years, the iPhone was exclusively an AT&T phone. But in early 2011, Verizon got the iPhone 4. Then, in the fall of 2011, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint got the iPhone 4S.
Siri, the iPhone's intelligent personal assistant, allows you to use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. But Siri isn’t like traditional voice recognition software that requires you to remember keywords and speak specific commands; Siri understands your natural speech, and it asks you questions if it needs more information to complete a task. Siri uses the processing power of the dual-core A5 chip in iPhone 4S, and it uses 3G and Wi-Fi networks to communicate rapidly with Apple’s data centers so it can quickly understand what you say and what you’re asking for, then quickly return a response.
Through the efforts of developers and hobbyists, the Web is teeming with unauthorized applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, and there are even some independent online application stores. However, in order to use these programs, iPhone owners have to “jailbreak” their device — downloading a bit of software that bypasses Apple’s restrictions and allows the installation of unsanctioned third-party programs. The growing popularity of jailbreaking has set up a legal battle between Apple, which says it has the right to regulate what can go on an iPhone, and the users and developers who want to customize their phones as they see fit.
Smartphones are becoming the device of choice for e-mail, Web browsing, and product research. Over the past two years, iPhone users have spent 45 percent more time e-mailing on their smartphones and 15 percent less time e-mailing on their PCs. Three-quarters of iPhone users also now pay for one or more apps each month, though most remain free.
Apple, the maker of consumer electronics and computer equipment, had set a goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, which would establish it as one of the major smartphone makers in the less than two years since it began shipping the original iPhone. Apple has sold six million phones globally since its introduction. AT&T said it would subsidize the phones to attract consumers: Under the plan, unlimited iPhone 3G data plans for consumers will be available for $30 a month, in addition to voice plans starting at $40.
Apple, legendary for the ferocity with which it safeguards new product announcements, had extraordinary challenges in keeping the iPhone under wraps for 30 months. Besides involving Cingular, Google and Yahoo, not to mention the unnamed Asian manufacturer, the project touched nearly every department within Apple itself, Jobs said, more so than in any previous Apple creation.
This may sound simple, but it took Apple several years to create its first phone and Jobs personally had to come up with plenty of sensible arguments for the iPhone to make into the commercial product and be released to the market. The name was reserved back in 1999 when the company registered the iphone.org domain, just in the spirit of Apple. It was to be given to the market outcome of the Purple 1 project, upon which in 2002, Steve Jobs commented as follows: "kick-start the market for next-generation mobile phones in the same way that the company's computer popularized personal computing."
The iPhone cracked open the carrier-centric structure of the wireless industry and unlocked a host of benefits for consumers, developers, manufacturers — and potentially the carriers themselves. Consumers get an easy-to-use handheld computer. And, as with the advent of the PC, the iPhone is sparking a wave of development that will make it even more powerful.