Apple marks 10 years since iPhone debut

James Pearce
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Steve Jobs took to the stage to unveil "revolutionary" iPhone handset at Macworld a decade ago

iPhone mosaic

The iPhone has turned 10, with more than one billion devices sold since Steve Jobs first unveiled the original Apple smartphone.

When Steve Jobs (pictured, below) took to the stage at Macworld in San Francisco on 9 January 2007, he promised "a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching and maps -- into one small and lightweight handheld device” in one device.

Since the launch of the device, Apple has released 11 models of iPhone, with the smartphone helping to catapult the Californian manufacturer to become the world’s most valuable company in terms of market capitalisation just two decades after it teetered on bankruptcy.

Gfk analyst Imran Choudhary said the iPhone was "truly revolutionary" for the handset market.

"The device itself brought to the mass market a touch screen interface and focussed strongly on providing a seamless user experience through iOS," he added. "Whilst early iterations were lacking some basic features, the iPhone was a glimpse into the future, and with the launch of the App store in 2008, it began to show the world, what a connected Smartphone could do.  The iPhone’s success can be measured in how it became the standard that all other devices would be compared to.  They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery and the iPhone’s design and user experience assets have influenced the competition and this is still happening today."

Prior to the launch of the iPhone, which did not go on sale until June 2007, the biggest phone manufacturer in the world was Nokia, followed by BlackBerry (then Research in Motion or RIM).

Though touchscreens did exist and were becoming more commonplace, multitouch options ad pinch-to-zoom technology, which has been the subject of numerous lawsuits in the last decade, was a key USP.

In a blog post, CCS Insight analyst Raghu Gopal explained: “In 2007, the mobile market looked very different. There was no Android, no LTE and no app economy. But there was a market for smartphones, and for the top suppliers at the time it didn't seem like Apple had much of a chance of challenging their dominant position.”

Steve JobsNokia has since sold off its mobile arm to Microsoft, before announcing a recent brand comeback through a licensing deal with Foxconn subsidiary HMD Global. BlackBerry has also quit making its own handsets, instead opting for an outsourcing deal with panel-maker TCL.

Apple, meanwhile, is the second largest smartphone-maker in the world (behind bitter rival Samsung), having sold 230 million iPhones last year – more than double the 100 million smartphones sold altogether worldwide in 2007.

However, while the iPhone has been fruitful for the Californian company, 2016 marked the first time since the launch of the iPhone in which its smartphone sales fell base on quarterly results. In both Q3 and Q4, Apple reported a dip in sales compared with the same quarters in the previous year.

In 2016, it released the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which Apple claims is 120 times faster in terms of processor performance than the original iPhone.

The declining sales and struggles with other products, such as the iPad, have led CEO Tim Cook, who replaced Jobs in 2011, to take a cut to his annual payout. According to an SEC filing, the company missed its sales target of $223.6 billion by 3.7%, reaching $215.6 billion. This resulted in Cook’s annual pay falling from $10.3 million in 2015 to $8.75 million, including salary and bonuses.

Cook remained upbeat about the future of the iPhone, as the manufacturer marked the 10-year anniversary with a blog post on its website.

In, it, Cook said: “iPhone is an essential part of our customers' lives, and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live. iPhone set the standard for mobile computing in its first decade and we are just getting started. The best is yet to come.”