Our Technology Editor Kevin Kelly takes a look back through the history of the iPhone and how it firmly established itself as a powerhouse in the smartphone market.
In the last three months, Apple has sold 47 million iPhones around the world.
In the previous three months, they sold 61 million iPhones.
In this same quarter last year, they sold 35 million iPhones.
These are insane numbers of stock to comprehend, from the massive and controversial manufacturing effort that makes an iPhone, to the vast quantity they get through in stores across the globe and online.
So many companies, any that also deal with smartphones or electronics, look at the iPhone in utter envy. While Samsung and HTC aren’t exactly not selling, they’re still in the shadow of the iPhone.
Why is this? Why has the iPhone become the default image of a smartphone to so many?
When the iPhone was first unveiled in 2007, it was far from being the first smartphone. Blackberry and Palm had already founded that market and owned it. Look at them now.
Palm has completely dissolved and honestly, Blackberry probably won’t be around much longer.
So how did the iPhone beat them? It does what Apple has arguably done for most of its existence - took an existing product category and improved it.
While the smartphones that were around at that time were more aimed towards the business market, Apple went for the everyday consumer.
The phone had a nice big (for the time) multi-touch screen opposed to the Blackberry’s keyboard. It was futuristic and people bought into it.
It was in the years following the iPhone’s release, when the 3G and 3GS were unveiled, it was then that the Apple marketing behemoth went into overdrive.
If Apple gets heaps of praise for its design, its marketing deserves it too. Its subtle but memorable, and very much open to being copied by a lot of its competitors.
The single person talking in a white room, a mix of ads featuring bright, popping colours and single, simple shots of the device.
All the Apple tropes that hooked people in. “Ooh, shiny colours! Here, take my money!”
It wasn’t until about 2010 that Apple started to face proper competition in the smartphone market. Google had been chipping away at Android for a few years by now, but it never clicked with the consumer.
It was a chunky, unfriendly operating system to have on a phone. They eventually pared it down to something people could use, and Apple had a challenge on its hands.
Today, Android dominates the smartphone market around the world, but the iPhone still stands as the biggest selling single smartphone.
If you look at the smartphone market, it’s Apple with iOS and everyone else with Android. For the iPhone to hold its own against that is impressive.
After 2010, the original smartphone markets, North America and Europe, were becoming saturated.
There’s only so many people there who will buy a smartphone, and a lot of them had already. Enter the global expansion of the smartphone market.
China is the big battleground in the new smartphone war, and the iPhone is utterly cleaning up there. So much so, that on the launch day of new iPhones there, units will be smuggled all over the country.
Chinese people buy them by the bulk. One man famously bought 99 of them, arranged them in a love heart shape on the ground, and proposed to his girlfriend in it. She said no. Awkward.
Apple has somehow got the balance right with the iPhone. It’s a superbly capable supercomputer in your pocket, as well as being a relatively expensive fashion accessory.
It takes a lot of work to make something that looks good to both the fashionistas and the nerds. This is how Apple made the iPhone rule the world, it marketed it to the top.
Photo: Yanki01/ Flickr