Obviously Apple’s iPhone is a significant product in the smartphone market, but let’s not forget it wasn’t the first smartphone, and there’s no reason it should continue to be dominant. With worldwide iOS sales running at only 12.5% for Q3 of 2016, Android devices are in the ascendant.
Apple’s real breakthrough was not in technology; at the time of its launch the iPhone was arguably not technically as good as products from Nokia and Motorola. But the third-party software they ran, such as Symbian or Windows Mobile, was not user-friendly enough for the consumer market.
Apple took existing technology from phones and PDAs, and repackaged it in a more user-friendly form – one that dispensed with the keyboard and the clunky GUI.
And of course, Apple’s real innovation was to disrupt the buying process. Rather than sell to the mobile networks, imposing price restrictions on manufacturing, Apple would sell direct – that was the real iPhone breakthrough.
The balance of power tipped from the networks to the manufacturers, who were now able to identify consumer groups and design handsets aimed specifically at them – more expensive, business-friendly models becoming less significant. Apple’s relatively low-spec iPhone, with the added bonus of side-loading of music from iTunes, became the handset to have.
But the world has changed, and iPhone’s technical innovations have been matched by Android devices. Attitudes to Apple have changed too. For every Apple advocate you’ll find another complaining about its expensive hardware, high prices of accessories and repairs, and planned obsolescence. If things continue this way, the much-anticipated iPhone 8 may be the last ‘best-seller’ Apple ever has.
Read the other side - why the iPhone is still as influential as it was 10 years ago