As hard as it is to believe, today marks the 10th birthday of Apple's innovation that changed the world – the first iPhone. It seems like longer ago, during that time when Steve Jobs routinely took the stage to announce the latest and greatest gadget. Among all the other Apple innovations, that first iPhone was something special.
Every couple of generations or so, something comes along that truly earns the title of “game changer.” The iPhone fits that description, joining the television set in the 50s, and the car back in the 20s. When historians study our culture and our lives years from now, it's hard to believe that first iPhone won't be right there with the Model T Ford as an invention that altered America – and soon the world.
If you stood in line to get your hands on that first iPhone in the summer of 2007, you know how exciting it was. Ironically, the device would not truly reach its potential until the following summer when Apple opened its App Store. Despite Jobs' doubts, third party developers turbocharged iPhone, and today, there are two million paid and free apps for iPhone.
Entire companies and brands are now leveraged off smartphone apps. Uber, Facebook, Snapchat, Yelp, Instagram, Open Table – all pretty much exist because of those little icons on your smartphone desktop. You might also recall that Amazon uses an app to power “Alexa.” And Apple's Podcasts app is responsible for a huge share of podcast consumption.
Amazingly, the app space continues to grow, thanks to that original iPhone model. Earlier this month, Apple announced that over $70 billion has been earned by developers since the store first opened. And remarkably, downloads grew over 70% in just the past 12 months. Apparently, iPhone and apps are here to stay.
Globally, the numbers are even more striking. VentureBeat reports the app economy will has a value of $6.3 trillion by 2021 – a 380% increase from today's $1.3 trillion app market. And here's a sobering thought: Apple's App Store is #1, but Android is projected to pass it later this year.
But the impact of iPhone goes well beyond revenue generation. Because iPhone came along, we never get bored and we never get lost – thanks to that mini-computer in our pockets. You've seen the web graphic of the guy holding all those devices we used to carry – all replaced by the iPhone. The camera, the calculator, the video recorder, the alarm clock, the mp3 player, the Rolodex, the calendar – and the list goes on. Now they're all built into our smartphones.
I'm proud to tell you that jācapps has played a role – albeit a relatively small one – in this amazing innovation saga. Thanks to the vision of our late digital guy – Tim Davis – we were the first app developers in the radio space. jācapps opened its doors 100 days after Apple's App Store opened its doors a year later in July, 2008.
My home station alma mater – WRIF in Detroit – was our very first jācapps client. And I cannot tell you how totally exciting it was to see that app show up on my iPhone “desktop” – alongside my email, my phone, iTunes, and all those other familiar icons.
We haven't looked back – now 1,000+ apps on both Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms. But it all started with iPhone.
A couple years back, we managed to get in touch with the Apple CarPlay team to discuss our foray into adapting radio apps to be compatible with their in-car ecosystem. Believe it or not, in all those years of developing apps for iPhone and later iPad, we had never spoken to an executive at Apple.
So, we got on a conference call with this group in Cupertino, and before we started telling them why we needed to be the first app company to adapt individually branded radio apps for CarPlay, I took a moment…to thank them.
Our company owes a great deal to Apple and their amazing innovation. So does the radio industry. We wouldn't have a business, and radio would have lost its portability long ago. The ability to carry around an iPhone – and now every other smartphone – while streaming your favorite radio station is still remarkable to me. Any radio station – whether in Mendocino or New York City – can have its own iPhone (and Android) app. For radio to have active participation with this awesome gadget these past 10 years has been a gift from Steve Jobs and the company he made famous.
The crazy part is that while many new iterations of iPhone have been released in the years since its debut, things haven't changed all that much. Some say that Apple is in a lull – that they haven't really developed a whole lot of new breakthrough features for this device since it first came out.
Or you could say that on this day in 2007, they absolutely nailed it – that the original iPhone was an amazing device out of the box. It's hard to significantly improve on something that was pretty damn amazing to begin with.
So, take a moment on iPhone's 10th anniversary – during one of the 85 times a day you check it – and remember what life was like before Jobs walked out on that stage and uttered these words:
“An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator…Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone.”
Hang on, I just got a text.
Watch Walt Mossberg's review of iPhone when he was still with the Wall Street Journal. This is why he stands out as the great tech writer of our time.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.
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