The Moment That Changed Everything

 

This week marks the 12th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone (it wasn’t actually released until June of 2007). Is the iPhone the most important invention ever made? It’s definitely the most successful, catapulting Apple from a niche electronics maker to the most valuable company in the world (at least temporarily).

The iPhone is responsible for creating thousands of ancillary businesses (arguably, including this one) and an untold number of jobs. The iPhone changed politics (could Trump have been elected without Twitter?), dating, family dynamics (“son, no texting at the table!”), and made free communication over any distance ubiquitous.

That said, the iPhone has also killed attention spans, made movies and the theater less pleasant, and harmed countless other activities.

So, are we better off or worse due the late Mr. Jobs’ invention? Discuss.

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There are 69 comments.

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  1. DonG Coolidge

    My old Palm Pilot begs to differ.

    • #1
    • January 9, 2019, at 5:37 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. Sweezle Member

    We are better off. Emergency calls on an iPhone can save a life. On the other hand, our kids are not better off. 

    • #2
    • January 9, 2019, at 5:37 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. EJHill Podcaster

    It isn’t really an invention, is it? It’s more of an amalgamation. It miniaturized dozens of pre-existing products and shrunk them into a single package.

    • #3
    • January 9, 2019, at 5:38 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  4. David Foster Member

    When the telegraph was first invented, a journalism marveled: “This extraordinary discovery leaves…no elsewhere…it is all here.”

    If wired communications has worked to destroy the sense of elsewhere, it seems that portable wireless communication is acting to destroy the sense of the here and now.

    • #4
    • January 9, 2019, at 5:42 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Blue Yeti Admin

    EJHill (View Comment):

    It isn’t really an invention, is it? It’s more of an amalgamation. It miniaturized dozens of pre-existing products and shrunk them into a single package.

    You are nitpicking but as Apple has done several time before and after the iPhone (the iPod was not the first MP3 player and iPad was not the first tablet) no one did it with the degree of ease of use and ensuing popularity (their great marketing helped) that Apple did.

    • #5
    • January 9, 2019, at 5:42 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. EJHill Podcaster

    Blue Yeti: You are nitpicking…

    Only because it’s my job(s).

    But change “everything?” Naw, it just rearranged things.

    The atomic bomb? Penicillin? Sam Colt’s “Equalizer?” Now those changed things.

     

    • #6
    • January 9, 2019, at 5:54 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Locke On Member

    Blue Yeti (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    It isn’t really an invention, is it? It’s more of an amalgamation. It miniaturized dozens of pre-existing products and shrunk them into a single package.

    You are nitpicking but as Apple has done several time before and after the iPhone (the iPod was not the first MP3 player and iPad was not the first tablet) no one did it with the degree of ease of use and ensuing popularity (their great marketing helped) that Apple did.

    It’s not a nitpick, it’s both correct and important. Apple isn’t primarily a technology company, it’s a packaging company. It makes a difference in how they behave, in both development and marketing. They don’t sell on specs, but on ease of use. (Which has broken down a bit of late, IMO.)

    (Former 8-year Apple employee here, the faces there have changed but the business logic has not.)

    • #7
    • January 9, 2019, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Blue Yeti Admin

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Blue Yeti (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    It isn’t really an invention, is it? It’s more of an amalgamation. It miniaturized dozens of pre-existing products and shrunk them into a single package.

    You are nitpicking but as Apple has done several time before and after the iPhone (the iPod was not the first MP3 player and iPad was not the first tablet) no one did it with the degree of ease of use and ensuing popularity (their great marketing helped) that Apple did.

    It’s not a nitpick, it’s both correct and important. Apple isn’t primarily a technology company, it’s a packaging company. It makes a difference in how they behave, in both development and marketing. They don’t sell on specs, but on ease of use. (Which has broken down a bit of late, IMO.)

    (Former 8-year Apple employee here, the faces there have changed but the business logic has not.)

    I’d say it’s a nitpick as far as consumers go. They don’t care who invented or adapted something. Only that it works and is easy to use. Apple nailed both of those requirements. But don’t take my word for it. Ask Blackberry and Nokia. Remember them? 

    • #8
    • January 9, 2019, at 6:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. DrewInWisconsin Member

    I’d say it was the iPad that changed everything. The iPhone was just a miniaturized iPad that added phone features.

    • #9
    • January 9, 2019, at 6:09 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. lowtech redneck Coolidge

    I notice that the invention of the iPhone seems to correlate with the point in time in which American culture started to become a waking nightmare.

    Just sayin’.

    • #10
    • January 9, 2019, at 6:09 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Blue Yeti Admin

    DonG (View Comment):

    My old Palm Pilot begs to differ.

    I had one of those!

    • #11
    • January 9, 2019, at 6:09 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Miffed White Male Member

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I’d say it was the iPad that changed everything. The iPhone was just a miniaturized iPad that added phone features.

    ipad came out in 2010, three years after the iphone.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad_(1st_generation)

     

     

    • #12
    • January 9, 2019, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. DrewInWisconsin Member

    I don’t hate the iPhone as much as I hate the societal assumption that everyone has one.

    • #13
    • January 9, 2019, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Blue Yeti Admin

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I don’t hate the iPhone as much as I hate the societal assumption that everyone has one.

    I’m not suggesting everyone has an iPhone — I know Android sells more phones. I’m saying the iPhone changed the world because it was the first mass market phone powered by a touch screen. That became the defacto standard for smart phones and that’s totally because of the success of the iPhone.

    For reference, here is a the first version of the Android phone, pre- iPhone. They were going after Blackberry, not Apple.

    • #14
    • January 9, 2019, at 6:21 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. DrewInWisconsin Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I’d say it was the iPad that changed everything. The iPhone was just a miniaturized iPad that added phone features.

    ipad came out in 2010, three years after the iphone.

    • #15
    • January 9, 2019, at 7:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. DrewInWisconsin Member

    Blue Yeti (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I don’t hate the iPhone as much as I hate the societal assumption that everyone has one.

    I’m not suggesting everyone has an iPhone — I know Android sells more phones.

    Right. Smart phones generally. Everyone assumes you have one. Already I’m running into more and more situations where I’m required to text something to access some app to continue to conduct my daily business. It’s annoying.

    I anticipate the day that I will essentially be cut off from purchasing anything or even accessing my own bank accounts without a smart phone.

     

    • #16
    • January 9, 2019, at 7:24 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. SeanDMcG Thatcher

    Beyond the impact on the cell phone industry, it also marked the start of the end of the influence that Internet Explorer (and Flash) had on web site design. People wanted to see the web on their devices, and without IE and Flash or other add-ons to help to render content, companies were forced to produce web sites that conformed to standards and did not require special plug-ins to work. Even Microsoft changed their big platforms to be cross-browser compatible.

    • #17
    • January 9, 2019, at 7:24 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Sweezle (View Comment):

    We are better off. Emergency calls on an iPhone can save a life. On the other hand, our kids are not better off.

    Emergency calls are at least as easy on reliable and much less expensive basic flip phones or smart phones optimized for people with limited vision and dexterity. The digital elite reputedly prohibit their own children using the devices they push on the rest of the population.

    • #18
    • January 9, 2019, at 7:43 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. DonG Coolidge

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I anticipate the day that I will essentially be cut off from purchasing anything or even accessing my own bank accounts without a smart phone.

     

    That day is 2 years ago and it is called two-factor authentication. Most smart employers require it and most big online services offer it.

    • #19
    • January 9, 2019, at 7:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Blue Yeti (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I don’t hate the iPhone as much as I hate the societal assumption that everyone has one.

    I’m not suggesting everyone has an iPhone — I know Android sells more phones. I’m saying the iPhone changed the world because it was the first mass market phone powered by a touch screen. That became the defect standard for smart phones and that’s totally because of the success of the iPhone.

    For reference, here is a the first version of the Android phone, pre- iPhone. They were going after Blackberry, not Apple.

    Yes, and it took a while to kill off the superior keyboards, for text typing purposes, of Blackberry form handsets. Your eyes did not need to be on the screen as you typed. You could touch type under the table/desk without visually distracting from a meeting, or showing your attention was on something other than the people in the room.

    • #20
    • January 9, 2019, at 7:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    I’m with Drew. No smart phone, and getting annoyed that everyone assumes you have one. On the Vanguard Web site, they are always pushing two-factor authentication, and there is no ‘I won’t do it” button, just “get started” and “remind me later”. Now, their login protocol is very loose-passwords are not case-sensitive and do not allow special characters. For some reason, they don’t think those things are necessary.

    • #21
    • January 9, 2019, at 8:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    I’m with Drew. No smart phone, and getting annoyed that everyone assumes you have one. On the Vanguard Web site, they are always pushing two-factor authentication, and there is no ‘I won’t do it” button, just “get started” and “remind me later”. Now, their login protocol is very loose-passwords are not case-sensitive and do not allow special characters. For some reason, they don’t think those things are necessary.

    Theoretically, the use of special characters etc has no inherent strength, provided you can choose a longer and obscure phase/string of words having meaning to you. I believe the special characters, etc., move is to defeat simple dictionary attacks. Typing at the very edge of my knowledge here.

    • #22
    • January 9, 2019, at 8:14 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Brian Watt Member

    I was working in the marketing department at Linksys, the consumer networking company that specialized in Wi-Fi routers and some small business switches and other offerings at the time of the Apple iPhone announcement. Linksys had been acquired by Cisco a few years earlier. Some folks at Cisco in San Jose got wind that Steve Jobs was going to announce the new Apple product as the “iPhone” which was a trademark of Linksys and previously a trademark of Infogear which Linksys had acquired before Cisco acquired Linksys (for a line of small business VoIP phones it had introduced but hadn’t really sold all that well).

    Cisco warned Jobs not to go on stage at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco and call the new product an iPhone or face possible litigation. Jobs was so in love with the name that he determined a possible settlement with Cisco could be reached and was something that he was willing to pay for. Jobs made the announcement and Cisco attorneys contacted Apple’s attorneys. I and some of my colleagues, prior to this, were asked to find any and all product marketing and advertising materials that we had produced clearly indicated that Linksys had been using the name for the line of Linksys iPhones for some time if it was ever necessary to use in a court of law. Cisco and Apple engaged in negotiations for Apple to acquire the rights at terms that were confidential suffice to say that Cisco probably faired very well in the settlement. Linksys was eventually sold to Belkin which was recently acquired by Foxconn which has been the lead manufacturer of iPhones for many years.

    For more on the story, read here.

    Several years before working for Linksys, I worked for Microtek, a manufacturer of flatbed image scanners (and film scanners) based in Taiwan. When I worked there, I was asked to create some logo artwork and a splash screen for the new scanning software we dubbed ScanWizard. Fast forward a few years and we received a cease and desist letter from Microsoft saying that they owned the rights to the name for their own image capture utility. The only problem was we had proof that we had trademarked and used the name for a few years before Microsoft had used the same name. Microsoft dropped the challenge after we produced proof of the use of the trademark in numerous marketing and advertising executions.

    • #23
    • January 9, 2019, at 10:04 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  24. Randy Webster Member

    Sweezle (View Comment):

    We are better off. Emergency calls on an iPhone can save a life. On the other hand, our kids are not better off.

    You can make that same call on a flip phone.

    Sorry, Clifford.

    • #24
    • January 10, 2019, at 3:13 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Randy Webster Member

    DonG (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I anticipate the day that I will essentially be cut off from purchasing anything or even accessing my own bank accounts without a smart phone.

     

    That day is 2 years ago and it is called two-factor authentication. Most smart employers require it and most big online services offer it.

    I don’t follow you. I buy stuff online all the time. I don’t own a smart phone. But I buy it from my computer.

    • #25
    • January 10, 2019, at 3:21 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Vectorman Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Emergency calls are at least as easy on reliable and much less expensive basic flip phones or smart phones optimized for people with limited vision and dexterity. The digital elite reputedly prohibit their own children using the devices they push on the rest of the population.

    Along with a land line at home, we use a $10/month flip phone purchased in 2004, a separate car GPS with maps, two laptops for computer access, file our bank statements away in a firebox, along with other important information. No need for the Cloud in case a Smart Phone gets broken.

    • #26
    • January 10, 2019, at 3:29 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. Randy Webster Member

    I wouldn’t even have a cell phone if my boss didn’t insist. But he’s paying for it, so I don’t mind so much. I enjoyed not being available 24/7 (before he got me the phone).

    • #27
    • January 10, 2019, at 3:36 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  28. Joseph Eagar Member

    Oh come on. I rather think the automobile, the train, the airplane, electricity, heck even steam power were far more significant inventions than the smartphone.

    Seriously Silicon Valley? This is the best you can do?

    • #28
    • January 10, 2019, at 3:51 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. RufusRJones Member

    Joseph Eagar (View Comment):

    Oh come on. I rather think the automobile, the train, the airplane, electricity, heck even steam power were far more significant inventions than the smartphone.

    Seriously Silicon Valley? This is the best you can do?

    Incremental improvements are harder. Nuclear fusion is going to be the big one.

    The reason child labor went away is because we didn’t need it for survival anymore.

    • #29
    • January 10, 2019, at 4:00 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. Guruforhire Member

    In the terms of life, I kind of feel like the iphone and smart phones in general were an iterative innovation, that hasn’t meaningfully impacted my life beyond consolidation of multiple cheaper items into 1 more expensive item.

    My life itself remains basically unchanged.

    • #30
    • January 10, 2019, at 4:45 AM PDT
    • 1 like
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