One of my favorite aphorisms appears in various forms and goes something like “You will be amazed not by how little you can accomplish in one year but by how much you can accomplish in ten years.” The quote came to mind when I read recently that the Apple iPhone turned ten years old on June 29, 2017. Ten years earlier on that day, Steve Jobs famously repeated that it is not an iPod or a phone but both—iPhone. The press has been covering many aspects of the iPhone’s birthday, including technical comparisons of the current iPhone 7 with the very first iPhone, hailing the iPhone as the first smartphone, and marveling at its culture-altering effects. The first iPhone was small and needed to be charged all the time, but it had that remarkable screen and very few buttons that already distinguished itself from a wide variety of cell phones from the Motorola Razor to the then popular Blackberry. Now, the iPhone has far better functionality, multiple cameras for easy selfies, remarkable battery life, bigger, more vivid screens, thousands of apps available in the App Store, and through the continuous stream of innovations, the iPhone has become a permanent appendage of millions to people around the world. Driven in part by the sales of over one billion iPhones worldwide, Apple Inc. today is the most highly capitalized company in the United States at over $760 billion.
Today, the smartphone acts as an indispensable extension of our minds and our world. With access to the internet in the palms of our hands, I hear people say all the time, “I don’t need my memory like I used to, because I can just Google what I don’t remember.” By extension, I hear people say, “I don’t know how I found my way around before.” With GPS enabled maps and directions, the iPhone, in a single stroke, made automotive navigation devices like the Garmen Drive redundant. The first iPhone had a camera, but most people would still carry their digital point and shoot camera for quality pictures, but now the onboard cameras and microphones in the iPhone take remarkable pictures and movies, making it very easy to leave the old digital camera behind when going out or to an event.
Each model of the iPhone boasted great improvements over the previous version. Six years ago, when my daughter’s birthday was approaching, we decided that a new iPhone would be her first phone and a big surprise for her birthday. My father-in-law and I had the responsibility to break off from the pack at the mall and secretly go down to the Apple Store to buy an iPhone. Being my typically frugal self, I was going back and forth whether I should spend more to get the iPhone 4 over the 3. My father-in-law looked at me, smiled, and said, “You didn't come all this way to come in second place, did you?” The decision was easily made at that point. My daughter was surprised and wore that little smartphone into the ground. The continuous improvements and innovations put the iPhone 4 way over the top compared to the one before. But now it seems like a hundred years since the iPhone 4 felt new and that was only 6 years ago. It is amazing what Apple has accomplished in 10 years with the iPhone. I think this is a good lesson for everyone, keep working and striving for improvement, and you too will look back ten years and be amazed how far you have come. Happy 10th Birthday iPhone!