For the next few months, we will be reading plenty about the first iPhone, which was unveiled by Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007, and finally released to the public less than six months later.
The phone was tiny, and the display resolution blurry by today’s standards. But it included a multi-touch touchscreen, a camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and 16GB of memory. The iPhone truly was a wondrous device in its day.
The iPhone’s success — which was immediate and dramatic — was not due to its sleek, handsome hardware but rather by what it allowed users to do (above and beyond making and receiving phone calls). The real key to its popularity and value lay in Apple’s iOS mobile operating system and the apps that ran on it.
Originally called “iPhone OS,” iOS supported only a handful of apps, including the Safari Web browser, a messaging client, email, notes, phone dialer, calculator, clock, maps, iTunes, YouTube and wireless connectivity. There was no Apps Store in 2007, nor were there third-party apps for iOS. (In fact, Steve Jobs initially was adamantly opposed to third-party apps for the iPhone.)
That all changed in July 2008, when Apple released iPhone OS 2 with the iPhone 3G. The new version added support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, giving mobile enterprise workers a powerful suite of productivity tools. More significantly, Cupertino opened the App Store and made a software development kit available to outside developers. This enabled enterprises to build their own applications to run on iOS.
Subsequent versions of Apple’s mobile OS added more enterprise-friendly productivity features. The iPhone OS 3 (2009) added a copy-and-paste function, basic encryption and (a year later) support for the iPad tablet. iOS 4 (2010) enabled enterprise IT pros to wireless manage iOS-powered devices and offered users a way to easily toggle between multiple apps.
Since then, Apple has continued to add features that make it easier and safer for enterprise employees using iOS devices, including iCloud backup, iMessage encryption, voice activation (Siri) and several security functions for devices, as well as stored and transmitted mobile data.
While the iPhone has gone through a number of changes over the years — device size, screen and camera resolution, disappearance of the headphone jack and more — it’s the evolution of iOS and the universe of apps that run on it that has made Apple’s mobile devices indispensable to enterprise workers in the digital age.
Did you have the initial iPhone? Did it change the way you worked?