“Think Different”, Indeed. How The iPhone Changed The Rules of Communication Dramatically

The Apple iPhoneThe way we’re communicating with each other has changed a lot over the past few years, but nothing seems to have made us look at our communication on the go more than the introduction of the Apple iPhone. Since its introduction in 2007, the iPhone has made a huge dent in the handset market. In fact, it was just announced during the iPhone 4S unveiling earlier this month that the iPhone constituted 5% of the global handset market, which is phenomenally huge, especially since the device is widely distributed around the world and the market consists of about 1.5 billion units annually (so if my math is right, that would mean there are 75 million iPhones out there). Even more, according to Apple, a huge startling revelation: 93% of the Fortune 500 companies see enormous potential in the iPhone that they are testing it on an enterprise level. So you got to admit that Apple really knows what they’re doing when it comes to mobile technology…and the customer understands that since studies have said that out of all the smartphones, the iPhone ranks first in customer satisfaction. Maybe there’s something to this mobile device, huh?

Mobile wasn’t really mobile until now

It’s been nearly five years since the introduction of the iPhone and what has happened since then has definitely been nothing shorter than remarkable. This new device has managed to introduce the world of mobile apps and shifted the paradigm that we’ve all had about phones. C’mon, let’s face it, prior to the iPhone, when we wanted to be mobile, we brought with us our laptops and did work wherever we could find a wireless signal. If we wanted to play games on the go, it was all done through the laptop, not on a phone. Sure, traditional phones that we had back in the day had some semblance of games that were based on limited creativity, but you couldn’t just play games like Angry Birds or have sophisticated photo-sharing applications or have tools like Photoshop, YouTube, UStream, or at the very least get email on your cellular phone. No, the one that tied it all together was Apple and their iPhone. They helped make society a bit more mobile than you would expect and helped shape the way we communicate in the future.

Communication isn’t just making a phone call

History of the iPhoneThe iPhone has been one of the major technology devices that has pioneered the mobile application era. It’s entry into the mobile life has ushered in a new way to communicate not only between two individuals, but also one-to-many. And my, how communication has changed. In the ancient past, we passed along messages using word of mouth. Later it was by letter. Next it was through the phone and then by email. Today and in the future, we’re going to be communicating through our phone, but in an entirely different way, all thanks to the innovation of the iPhone and its successive sequels. No longer are we making phone calls – when was the last time you made a phone call on your smartphone? Now, we communicate with each other through the use of Skype, Google Talk, text messaging, and email through the mobile device. And that’s only the the analog way of transmitting information. Let’s not forget the slew of other means that we can now utilize on smartphones…broadcasting video through our phones (YouTube, Socialcam, UStream, etc.), sharing photos in real-time (Camera+, Instagram, PicPlz, etc.), playing music on the same device instead of lugging around an mp3 player (Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, etc.) and many, many more!

Don’t take my word for it…just see the stats!

Several weeks ago, Apple unveiled their latest iteration of the iPhone and along the way, they revealed some amazing statistics on the success of the iPhone:

  • the iPhone 4 has sold over half of Apple’s total iPhones sold in the entire time that the device has been available for sale
  • 93% of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying the iPhone
  • Consistently ranked #1 in every customer satisfaction rankings, including being rated #1 by J.D. Power & Associates
  • iPhone has 5% share of the worldwide market of handsets
And you would think that the iPhone has only changed the way that we in the United States view communication, but it has definitely become a worldwide phenomenon. Just look at the table below as shown from Wikipedia. The iPhone has definitely become dispersed throughout the world that there is a common link on how information is shared. Sure, there are lots of other smartphones out there, but none seems to have more of an impact than the iPhone.

iPhone Global Distribution (source: Wikipedia)The mobile market is growing

According to a post on Digital Buzz and provided by Microsoft Tag, the mobile market is currently in a state where, out of the 4 billion mobile phones in use, 1.08 billion are smartphones and 3.05 billion are SMS enabled. In fact, the industry is growing at such a phenomenal pace that by 2014, it will overtake the desktop in Internet usage.  And one could surmise that this is due in large part to the iPhone. More and more activity is being thrown to mobile browsers and I suppose that’s why carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have started to remove unlimited data plans from their offerings. But with respect to the iPhone, this single device has helped spur an industry and made being connected a daily ritual something that has become a societal norm. In fact, the iPhone has helped change the belief that having information literally at the tip of our fingers is quite okay. No longer is information withheld for a delay. In this age of the socially-connected individual, the mobile device that Steve Jobs created, has become a vital tool in our very existence. With all these mobile applications on the iPhone designed to keep us connected, the possibilities are endless.

If you would have imagined what people would be doing on their mobile devices now compared to nearly ten years ago, would you believe it? Probably not…but based on recent statistics, the majority of people use it to play games (61%), look at the weather (55%), get directions or look at a map (50%), use social media (49%), play music (42%), read the news (36%), entertainment (33%), look for food (25%), and watch videos (21%). All of these things were probably first introduced right when the iPhone came out and the experience has only gotten better with the successive iterations.

Yes, this may seem to be a very iPhone-bias post. Some may consider me to be more of a fanboy, but I beg to disagree. Regardless of your feelings for Apple, the late Steve Jobs, or any Mac product, there is one undisputable truth: the iPhone has been a pioneer in the mobile market industry and its continued innovations and sequels will help determine our next mode of communication.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."